Is your business is targeting the youth of Sub-Sahara Africa?  If not, then your business is missing out on the largest and fastest growing youth consumer market in the World.  According to a Mckinsey & Company study over 50% of Africans are under the age of 20 and over the next decade this group will grow faster than any other youth group in the World.

In 2013 Africans aged 16-34 accounted for 65% of the consumer spending in Sub-Sahara Africa, or SSA.  A quick profile of this youth consumer shows that they are online and tech savvy, image-conscious, prefer quality first, price second, are brand conscious, mobile, and they are digital.  And their digital technology of choice is the mobile phone.Image

Mobile Technology is the de facto technology of choice for the youth of Africa.  For this article I define the youth of Sub-Sahara Africa, SSA, as anyone between the ages of 14-34.  For this group the mobile phone is a passport to a flexible new world that is much desired.

Their mobile phone defines their status and distinguishes their place in society.  The more expensive your mobile device the richer you are, the cheaper your device, the poorer you are. Most young people initially buy low cost, low brand devices, such as Techno, or Huawei, but once they save up enough money they go for a more expensive, nicer looking phone.  Youth consumers in SSA are very brand and image conscious and their mobile device is proof of that.

Another key trend is mobile devices no longer just being phones.  Mobile devices have now become tablets, phablets, and phonblets.  SSA youth are using their mobile devices to view, store, and create mobile content. Even though more youth are using mobile devices daily, only 20% of a phone’s functionality is actually being used according to mobile tech industry analysts.  Of that 20% however, more than 70% of that usage is for communication (email, SMS, social networking, downloading games, music and video apps, etc.).

Internet access is also getting better and sites like Youtube and Facebook receive millions of visits and subscribers.  Texting is still prevalent and phones are used more often for texting than voice calls. However texting can now be broadly viewed as messaging. There is SMS and then there are data based free messaging services like Whatsapp, Ebuddy, and BBM that now actively compliment SMS.

Image

Mobile also provides privacy and control for SSA youth.  Having a phone allows them to keep information from the prying eyes of their parents and family.  According to an InMobi Report in 2012, 47% of Nigerian youth say they love their mobile device because it allows them to keep their information private.

SSA youth also keep their mobile devices on them at all times an according to an InMobi report.  Mobile provides SSA youth with “Found Time”.  Found Time is described as using your mobile device at any time, whether in the bathroom, on the bus, or on your bed to check-in to social networking sites such as Facebook, IRokoTV, etc.social media in Africa

For the business side mobile commerce exists but has not really become part of everyday culture.  Countries where mobile money is strong, such as Kenya and Tanzania, see more activity in regards to mobile commerce, but continent wide this phenomenon has not completely gained steam at this time.  I spoke with Dayo Adefila, CMO of MMIT in Nigeria, on why this current situation exists.  “My guess for why mobile commerce is so low in a majority of countries is the lack of a clear value Proposition.  Merchants are not advertising mobile money acceptance so end-users don’t want any issues with their money.  They basically avoid M-commerce sites.”

Understanding this demographic is vital to understanding the future of SSA.  The technology may change but the consumer habits of tomorrow are being formed today.  The traditional consumer patterns of the West and how companies approach these consumers does not apply to SSA.  The approach taken to reach and speak directly to these consumers is unique and local to SSA and it starts with mobile technology.

Anthony Bio for Blogs

 

Advertisements