In the West, multi-sensory experiences interwoven with augmented reality, AI and a myriad of other tech-centric features continue to redefine the customer experience. But in Africa the picture is different: it’s about attempting to overcome everyday challenges that stem from a lack of infrastructure, poorly regulated services and corruption. These challenges have long shaped the expectations of African consumers, and have long kept brands operating in Africa nipping at the heels of their global counterparts.
Just consider: 15% of annual sales in Tanzania are lost due to power outages (World Bank, June 2017).
But what about globalization? How is that affecting African consumers?
The Expectation Economy has created a yearning for new kinds of brand-driven experiences. But many consumers realize they will not become a reality for the masses in Africa any time soon.
Furthermore, both online and offline, Africans are used to adapting to less relevant content, experiences and even customer touch point models, which tend to be copied and pasted from abroad. Indeed, only eight countries in Africa have a majority of content that is locally produced (Annals of the American Association of Geographers, May 2017).
The Global Picture
In a hyper-competitive Experience Economy where consumers are digitally-empowered, yet feel forever time-starved, there’s a fundamental choice to make with your Customer Experience strategy. At any particular moment, you must decide if your brand’s offering is a steppingstone on the way to experiences or if you are providing the experience itself.
To frame it another way: you must ask whether you are SAVING the customer’s attention or SEIZING it. In Africa, the dichotomy is more nuanced and at times in contradiction to the global CX model.
Read on to find out more…
Does the future of CX in Africa mean total convergence between classes and the democratization of experiences, or will the hierarchy remain between the rich and poor and the experiences they have access to?
It for the brand to make the choice. Experiential marketing, and crowd-sourced experiences are great channels to bring together traditionally disparate consumers with similar tastes, around a shared interest. Yet, those who were always privy to experiencing best-in-class global CX are now hoping that other brands offer them more inventive ways to shine above those lower down the ranks and hot on their heels. Now that increasing disposable income has all but ‘levelled the pyramid’, as seen in Woolworth’s local style collection above, the question remains for more premium brands, like Kenzo below: how will you also cater to your customers’ needs in a way that continues to distinguish them (and their tastes) from others?
Traditional South African artwork transforms luxury sportscar
In September 2016, South African artist Esther Mahlangu transformed a BMW 7 Series vehicle by adding traditional Ndebele art to the interior trims. A collaboration with BMW Individual Manufaktur, the bright ornamental shapes were painted onto special white-colored fine-wood trims within the vehicles.
Luxury fashion label celebrates Nigerian youth
April 2017 saw Kenzo unveil a short fashion film for its Spring/Summer 2017 collection. Working with industry creatives, the luxury fashion label has created GIDI GIDI BỤ UGWU EZE: a movie celebrating Nigerian youth. The clip was shot in Nsukka and centers on one of Nigeria’s Igbo communities, with local people featuring – all wearing Kenzo apparel while telling their stories.
And don’t forget?
When speaking about the African market, of course, there are many differences and diversities, so take your time to understand the idiosyncrasies of whoever’s attention your brand plans to seize. For example, informal market shoppers will more than likely appreciate the seemingly haphazard and organized chaotic nature of those settings, using their time ‘shopping’ to interact, negotiate and engage with the greater community. Wiping this facet out or mimicking other cultures that successfully engage shoppers with augmented reality 3D projections of competitive deals online might – in this case – be the fastest way to lose your customers’ attention… and maybe for good!