Below, you’ll find 5 African trends that need to be on the radar of every switched-on business professional in 2018. Let’s dive in:
1. AFRICAN MAGIC
Why in 2018, exceptional African brands and talent will be the best in class.
2. CITIZEN WOKE
Why global brands must strive to decolonize consumerism in 2018.
3. GREEN ARMY
In 2018, the pendulum of sustainability will swing between the preventative and restorative.
4. MANIFEST EMPATHY
In Africa, the future of human brands is empathetic brands.
5. SMART MARKET
Smart technology reaches its tipping point across the continent in 2018.
You’re about to discover a selection of innovations that are (re)defining the expectations of African consumers. These innovations – and the 5 big consumer trends they represent – offer you insights into what Africans on the continent and in the diaspora will want next.
We hope these trends inspire and empower you. Understanding them is the key to staying ahead of customer expectations and your competitors.
S0, read, think, discuss. Then start DOING.
Lesotho — The Government of Lesotho became the first in Africa to grant a license to legally grow, manufacture and export medical marijuana in October 2017. Despite African governments’ typically conservative values and fears about recreational drug use, Lesotho granted the license to South African company Verve Dynamics. The firm’s initiative will employ local citizens and establish a profit-sharing deal with Lesotho communities. The bulk of the medical marijuana cultivated will exported to North America and Europe.
The Serpentine Galleries — The Serpentine Galleries in London appointed Burkina Faso’s Francis Kéré to design its annual temporary park pavilion in July 2017. The tree in the architect’s home village, which functioned as a space to gather the community, inspired the Serpentine Pavilion’s aesthetic. The sustainable pavilion collects rainwater to create a waterfall as well as irrigate the park’s fields, and small holes in the structure ‘light’ it up at night.
Ethiopia Airlines — June 2017 saw Ethiopia Airlines launch an E-Visa service for international participants of meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions in Ethiopia. The airline’s first of its kind collaboration with the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs Main Department, allows prospective travellers to process their visas, book flights, pay and check in online, all via the airline’s platform.
Selfridges — As part of its Music Matters at Selfridges campaign, September 2017 saw the London department store unveil a collaboration with Nigerian superstar musician Davido and Orange Culture: a renowned designer also hailing from Nigeria. The Music X Fashion capsule collection was launched within Selfridges’ menswear department – created by Orange Culture, and inspired by Davido’s personal style.
Jameson — In October 2017, Irish whiskey brand Jameson celebrated Nigeria’s Independence Day with Jameson Connects Nigeria. The free event celebrated Nigerian history and culture with traditional food and palm wine cocktails, and was held at The Old Running Shed, which houses Lagos’ oldest train relics.
DHL — A partnership facilitating the sale of African products to customers in the United States was announced in October 2017. US express services provider DHL will provide drop-off points for products in the US, while global e-commerce company MallforAfrica’s eBay platform will promote African arts, designs, and crafts. The initiative offers businesses in Africa an opportunity to sell locally manufactured products directly on eBay.
BBC Worldwide — In August 2017, BBC World Service launched a new language service for digital platforms in English-based Pidgin for West and Central Africa. Providing a range of local, regional and international news, current affairs and analysis, BBC Pidgin will also cover culture, entertainment, science and technology, health and sport. Based in Lagos, the service will have a presence across all social media platforms.
Nivea — July 2017 saw Nivea collaborate with fashion designer Laduma Ngxokolo on a campaign promoting the skincare brand’s Invisible Black and White Deodorant. The campaign gave consumers the chance to win one of 250 limited edition MaXhosa by Laduma T-shirts. The designs are known for reflecting traditional South African aesthetic in a modern way and often feature black and white patterns, in line with Invisible Black and White Deodorant branding.
Kenyan Government — In August 2017, Kenya‘s government completely banned plastic bags. Punishment for carrying, manufacturing or importing plastic bags has a fine of around USD 19,000 up to 38,000, plus jail terms of four years. Liners for trash bins and bags for disposal of chemical or medical waste are exempt from the ban, with retailers introducing paper or fiber bags, or cardboard cartons or boxes. Plastic bags can be dropped off at local grocery stories, to be disposed of.
UpFuse — UpFuse creates accessories – tote bags, camera straps, wallets and laptop cases – made of upcycled plastic bags. The Egypt-based company employs locals to sort through trash in Cairo and create the merchandise; 30% of each tote bag, for instance, is constructed from plastic bags. UpFuse won the WeMena competition, for female entrepreneurs in North Africa and the Middle East, in April 2017. In September 2017, the company upcycled 50,000 plastic bags.
Forest Watcher — Forest Watcher is a mobile app that helps forest rangers detect illegal forestation activities (including logging and mining), even when they cannot connect to the internet. The app was launched in September 2017 and beta-tested at the protected Kibale National Park in Uganda. Forest Watcher links rangers to data collected by Global Forest Watch, which tracks deforestation in real-time through satellites, and leads them to locations where deforestation is taking place through GPS technology.
Youth for Green Growth — A program aiming to stem the chronic deforestation of Tanzania saw more than 150,000 tree seedlings planted in April 2017. Youth-led social and environmental action and advocacy group Youth for Green Growth worked with the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group to create a tree nursery in Tanzania’s Iringa region. Funded by the OAK Foundation, the project supports the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
Cym Van Dyke clinic — July 2017 saw the Cym Van Dyke sexual health clinic open in South Africa. At the center, visitors will be offered tests for STDs, pregnancy and Tuberculosis, and can access drug counseling, cervical cancer screenings, condoms and legal services. The clinic’s aim is to help sex workers who are often stigmatized in the country, but services are also available to members of the general public. The Cym Van Dyke clinic plans to open mobile clinics to reach those in rural areas.
MerMaid — MerMaid is an on-demand platform that connects homeowners in Egypt with local cleaners and domestic workers. The company acts as an intermediary between owners and workers; its aim is also to eliminate abuse of domestic workers, and employ refugees and migrants. The online platform is location-based and was selected to participate in July 2017’s Tech Open Air conference in Berlin.
Slide Safe — Nigeria-based Slide Safe offers on-demand delivery of STD testing kits, condoms and lubricants. Slide Safe also operates on Lagos’ largest university campus, promoting safe sex to students. Orders are placed via an SMS shortcode and delivered discreetly in anonymous packaging, with the company having sold upwards of 600 orders – costing USD 5-20 each – by October 2017.
ResqueBnB — Following election-related violence in Kenya in August 2017, ResqueBnB connected stranded Kenyans with volunteer hosts. Inspired by AirBnb, the website provides shelter and care packages to citizens in Kisumu. Individuals can also make donations via the site, with ResqueBnB partnering with local distribution companies to deliver supplies where required.
The Internet of Life — The horns of black rhinos (classified as a critically-endangered species) were equipped with internet-connected sensors in September 2017. Installed by animal protection group The Internet of Life, the sensors enable rangers at Tanzania’s Mkomazi National Park to track black rhinos’ whereabouts and prevent poaching. The sensors use LoRaWAN technology to connect with rangers’ computers (and other devices) over long distances. The Internet of Life’s initiative is part of its Smart Park program to protect wildlife in Africa through technology.
Smart Stick — In October 2017, final year students at a Malawi university created a sensory walking stick for the blind. Using readily available and affordable cell batteries, the device senses moisture, distance and light and sends audio directions to the user. Effective even at night, the Smart Stick is yet to be made commercially available.
Chedli Taxi — Available to download from August 2017, Chedli Taxi is a free app enabling Marrakesh residents to order a taxi by voice command, allowing them to record a short voice message detailing about their location and which direction they are traveling. The message is then sent to taxi drivers within 300 meters, who can listen to the voice message and accept the ride if suitable. One month post-launch, 200 of the city’s municipal taxis had already adopted the app. Chedli Taxi charges cab drivers a 10% fee.
Transport Programs Management Bureau — June 2017 saw Addis Ababa’s Transport Programs Management Bureau introduce a smart parking facility with space for up to 90 cars. Built to address the city’s lack of parking spaces, the 50-storey facility includes an automated lifting system to park cars safely and efficiently. Users can ‘collect’ their car and pay for parking via a touchscreen mounted at the facility’s entrance. According to the Bureau, it’s the first parking lot of its kind to be launched in Africa.
GhanapostGPS — November 2017 saw the launch of a national digital and property addressing system by the government of Ghana. GhanapostGPS uses a combination of letters referring to the region of the location, and district, and a number providing a unique unique address. Using geo-coding, the initiative aims to formalize the Ghanaian economy and improve business activities in the country.
The 5 trends featured here are important, but they represent just a small fraction of the consumer landscape.
Clients of our Premium Service have an instant global Trend Department at their fingertips. They have access to our entire Trend Framework, built around the 16 mega-trends that define modern consumerism. Beneath these sit 120+ actionable trends (the trends featured here, along with a host of others we continue to track), all illustrated with 15,000+ hand-curated, best practice innovations. If you’re serious about trends, it’s a no-brainer.
As always, we wrap up these annual Trend Briefings with a call to action…
While it‘s our job just to watch trends, ambitious business professionals should read this Briefing with only one thing in mind: how to apply these trends to create compelling new innovations that will delight your customers (and win new ones!).
In February 2018, we’re hosting a Trend Seminar in Cape Town, where participants learn more about – and work with – 2018’s biggest trends.
Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Time to make 2018 your best year yet!
Cheers! Proost! Furaha! Salud! Skål! O Dun! Santé! Prost! Şerefe! Farxad! Saúde! Chok dee!