New opportunities for African brands on the world stage AND at the local source!


Still talking about 'the Third World', 'the Dark Continent', or even 'Africa Rising'?

Time to change your mindset. Our past Africa Trend Briefings can help with that ;)

From the ‘war torn, HIV-ridden continent’ assumptions, to the ‘wasteful rich kids’ and ‘corrupt officials’ blanket labels, we’ve been talking about jettisoning the out-dated stereotypes and simplistic clichés regarding Africa for a while.

But the wave of cultural pride that kickstarted a plethora of Africa-specific trends (FOR AFRICA BY AFRICA in 2013, NEW AFRICAN NARRATIVES in 2014, and HEART ON SLEEVERS in 2015, to name just a few) has plenty of distance left to travel. And that means plenty of opportunities!

Fast-forward to 2016, and Africans are firmly in the global spotlight. Yes, Nollywood and Afrobeats did pave the way for a new kind of consumption – one created by Africans, for Africans. But now the story has moved on: to the explosion of game-changing African influence and innovation across multiple industries worldwide.


African startup success demands recognition

In August 2016, online news site Quartz Africa highlighted the controversy that ensued when many mainstream media organizations mispresented Andela, a tech startup founded in Nigeria by 25-year-old entrepreneur Iyinoluwa Aboyeji. Readers were angered when, in many articles, Andela was referred to as a ‘New York-based startup’, and no mention was made of its Nigerian founder. A number of Nigerian bloggers wrote posts correcting the misinformation. Andela raised USD 24 million in a funding round led by the Chan Zuckerberg initiative.

In 2016, Africa is inviting EVERYONE to the party.

While others talk of turning inwards, Africa is proudly exporting its culture and innovation to the world.

Around the world, 2016 has been a fractious story. An epic refugee crisis in Europe. Rising tension around race and immigration in the US. That (and more) has fueled talk in many countries of turning inwards.

For Africa and its diaspora, though, the story has been quite different. Yes, the continent is infamous for tribalism, intra-continental xenophobia, and post-colonial border disputes. But in 2016, unity between Africans across the continent and in the diaspora has been a guiding theme.

Think the African Union (AU) trialing one African passport. Or the attempt by Haiti to be the first non-African country to join the AU. The first major African concert held for its diaspora in New York. The #BlackLivesMatter movement garnering support from the African diaspora in Europe.

The takeaway? African identities, cultures and innovations are sweeping across borders as never before – and everyone is invited to the celebration! That means opportunities for NEW cross-border fusions that reach across the African diaspora and beyond.

But local culture, tradition and heritage remain the beating heart.

The wider the celebration of African identities, cultures and innovations grows, the more intense it becomes at its source ;)

Africa’s presence on the global stage is very real. But that doesn’t mean that the epic trend for celebrating the essence of Africa – local cultures, traditions, and heritage – is any less potent.

Indeed, it’s quite the reverse. The more Africa proudly exports its culture, heritage and innovations to the world, the more important it becomes – and the more opportunities there are – to celebrate and empower African consumers who are championing and renewing all of that at the local source!

And yes, it goes without saying that across Africa all is not rosy (yet), as catastrophically decelerated growth, lingering infrastructural issues, political unrest and– in some cases – regressive societies, continue to plague the continent.

So consumers will continue to embrace innovations that address those problems, and those that celebrate, champion, remix and renew local African heritage, culture and traditions!


This is an opportunity of two halves. Appreciating inwards. Celebrating outwards.

When it comes to applying this trend, think about it as a coin with two separate, but related, sides ;)

How can you create innovative new cross-border fusions, bring African culture and innovation to a global audience, or help the global African community (and beyond!) connect with one another?

Or, how can you serve and empower those who are championing and renewing African culture, heritage and innovation at the local source?

And yes… you can do both!


Find new cross-border fusions that bring African cultures, identities and innovations to the world!



Kenyan style bloggers host UK fashion swapping event

You don’t have to be ‘African’ to participate in this trend… that’s the whole point!

June 2016 saw Nairobi-based fashion bloggers 2manysiblings host a UK version of their Thrift Social event, which generally takes place in in their home city. The Kenyan siblings’ events series gives people the chance to shop, swap, style and upcycle apparel and accessories. 2manysiblings were on hand to offer tips and fashion advice, with UK-based brand AfroRetro hosting a print workshop during the event, and live music, cocktails and snacks on sale. The GBP 10 event was part of the Brighton Museums’ Fashion Cities Africa exhibition.

Partnering with locals is a great way to ensure authenticity and respect from consumers eager to get a taste of where contemporary African culture is going.

Democratic Republic of Congo


UK brand launches premium chilli sauces made with traditional African spices

Neema sauces are based on traditional recipes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Launched in the UK in July 2016 by Congolese entrepreneur Rose Yombo-Djema, the premium chilli sauces are made with different blends of local spices and natural ingredients, and are low in sugar and gluten-free. Priced at GBP 5, three varieties of Neema sauce are available to buy.

Gaining inspiration from traditions – and in this case, preserving traditional recipes – will always be appreciated by customers, who have either long been cut off from their heritage or are simply curious about discovering hidden gems.


The British Council

Open House Worldwide comes to Lagos

Clever organizations are finding new ways to celebrate the cultural heritage that surrounds them.

The British Council showcased over 20 iconic buildings in Lagos over one weekend in Q2 2016. Part of Open House Worldwide, the event offered people free access to residencies, civic buildings, and innovative infrastructure projects. The festival also featured themed bus tours, opportunities to meet architects and designers, and festival memorabilia, including a limited-edition event guide.

Consider what is currently being ignored by the masses. Neglected everyday cultural landmarks and unsung heroes can be the starting point for engaging your customers on a truly informative level.



Video campaign celebrates immigrants and their heritage

Breaking negative perceptions and creating new ones will always be one of the toughest endeavors. But bold organizations love a challenge!

Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month in the US during June 2016, the #IAmAnImmigrant movement launched a campaign backed by nonprofit, The video campaign highlights the importance of immigrants in the US and around the world, featuring interviews with celebrities such as Akon, Lupita Nyong’o and Kerry Washington.  Viewers were encouraged to share their own personal and family stories using the dedicated hashtag on social media.

Have you thought about collaborating with key flag bearers that celebrate outwards? Of course, not everyone has access to Oscar-winning celebrities. So why not collaborate with SIPs (that’s Socially Important People, a trend exclusive to TW:Premium), and PEER ARMIES – both trends that tap into the rising power of peers to create and contribute.


TIDAL & One Africa Music Fest

America's first major Africa-themed concert launches with livestreaming for global audience

So far, we’ve covered the convergence of Africa with its diaspora and African-Americans and other ‘displaced’ Africans. But this trend is still in its early days. This daring brand is helping to set the pace…

In July 2016, global music streaming startup, TIDAL partnered with various African artists to hold a first-of-its-kind concert in the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York. The One Africa Music Fest featured artists from across the African continent – many of whom were visiting the States for the first time – in an attempt to capture the emerging demographic of American-based revelers unable to see these artists on home soil. The sold-out show, was also broadcast live on Tidal’s platform, for Afrobeats and Afropop fans worldwide who were unable to attend the event.

Negative perceptions of the continent are eroding quickly, so consider how your brand can tap into this new global hunger for connection between Africans and others!


Celebrate, champion and renew African cultures, identities and innovations – and empower those already doing just that!

South Africa

Malaville Toys

Diverse dolls represent African natural beauty

So you make a physical product? In 2016, it’s no longer acceptable to adopt ideas and marketing templates from the West.

Available from May 2016, Malaville Toys offers a range of four dolls designed with diversity in mind. Priced from ZAR 300 (USD 21) each, the dolls all have darker skin-tones and different natural hairstyles. Each doll has her own African name, with professions including Interior Designer and Fashion Stylist. Malaville Toys’ dolls also wear modern apparel made with traditional African fabrics.

Whether subtle or overt, embedding local significance into your offerings will garner support from the younger generations and those seeking to instil cultural pride into their offspring too.



Fashion editorial features elderly Kenyan hip-hop fans

Don’t be afraid to take NEW AFRICAN NARRATIVES literally!

June 2016 saw Kenyan photographer Osbone Macharia publish Kabangu: an editorial featuring elderly men who work as security guards in Nairobi. Based in the Kariobangi settlement, the four men featured are all passionate fans of hip-hop and related activities such as DJing, MCing, breakdancing and graffiti. The men – nicknamed Kabungu – have been interested in hip-hop since the 1980s, regularly meeting to mentor young talent in the local area.

There are many stories that remain untold: personal histories, hidden cultural movements, overlooked demographics. Like the publication above, don’t be afraid to stray from the expected – breaking stereotypes is the point of this trend!



Social network campaign empowers veiled women

Going against the grain and standing up for the underdog is no longer an option but a prerequisite for brands looking to tap into AFRICA INSIDE OUT.

Launched in March 2016, 3ala Rasy (meaning ‘I Am My Veil’) was a Facebook campaign from Cairo-based agency FP7 aiming to empower veiled women. Although 90% of women in Egypt are veiled, they are often treated as a minority both by brands and by society. The campaign’s clip features reverse poetry: a series of lines which are spoken out loud and then reversed, to create a different meaning – taking the poem from negative to positive. Within one month of its launch, the short film was watched over 6 million times.

Is your brand still holding on to out-dated preconceptions? Time to take a BRAND STAND and champion a cause. In an INSIDE OUT AFRICA, brave brands earn respect.



Made-in-Kenya running shoes benefit local communities

Let’s not forget that at the heart of this trend is the mission to ultimately empower and champion the continent, its inhabitants and diaspora.

Successfully crowdfunded in June 2016, Enda (meaning ‘Go’ in Swahili) is a sneaker brand offering shoes made in Kenya, benefiting local people. Retailing for around USD 100, the lightweight running trainers have been tested by runners in the Kenyan highlands, including international competitors. The barefoot-style shoe is made in Kenya, using materials from China, with a percentage of profits helping community projects, which are decided based on Enda customers’ votes.

So what benefits can you bring to locals? Consumers are still in dire need of homegrown products (Don’t forget FABA!) and services that truly leave a positive mark on African communities.

Nigeria & Sudan


Student art competition celebrates brand’s African centenary

Even global conglomerates are starting to understand that importing ideas from elsewhere won’t wash.

Nestlé hosted the Nestlé Centenary National Art Competition to celebrate 100 years of conducting business in South Africa. Local students were invited to create a 2D or 3D artwork that referenced the Nestlé brand assigned to them as well as the company’s 100 year anniversary. 70 entries were submitted and 15 creations by student finalists were displayed during the show. Winners of the competition were announced in July 2016, with the exhibition being showcased at various Nestlé offices across South Africa.

As we’ve previously discussed, BIG BRAND REDEMPTION requires legacy brands to act more ethically, sustainably and (of course) positively. And this couldn’t be more relevant on the continent. Think about how you can win back the trust of your consumers by reflecting their needs in the most localized ways possible. At the very least, it’s a start!



Custom-made African surfboards promote local art and gender equality

It’s not just about big brands. There’s a role for everyone.

March 2016 saw the launch of Senegal-based surfboard brand MCXNboards. The company’s locally-constructed boards are tailor-made based upon a customer’s height, weight and skill. The brand also supports local artisans by collaborating on custom-created surfboard art, as well as initiatives that encourage young women. Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country with few female surfers, and MCXN’s female brand ambassador, Khadijou Sambe, plans to develop social strategies that tackle gender inequality.

Championing minorities is still a must, and there’s no shortage of other issues needing addressing! Today, on the continent, starting or joining a movement has never been easier (or more needed).


New customer expectations don't emerge out of the blue – you just need to know where (and how) to look for them.


Spotting trends? It all starts with innovations...

The not-so-secret secret to spotting trends (including this one!). Stop watching customers, and start watching the innovations – products, services, campaigns – flooding into the market now. Draw lines between similar innovations, and interrogate them for the new customer expectations they're helping to create. There's much more on our end-to-end methodology in our book, Trend-Driven Innovation. So how do we process thousands of innovations we spot? It helps to have a Framework...


The Trend Framework

16 mega-trends that provide context and structure when tracking the evolution of consumerism.

Our identification of the AFRICA INSIDE OUT trend in Africa wasn’t the result of a midnight brainstorming session ;)

Instead, as with all our trends, the process was rather more straightforward – and structured.

That’s because all the trends we spot and share are really newly-emerging directions of travel in one (or more) of our 16 mega-trends. These mega-trends are the big, slow-moving currents in the consumer arena and, taken together, they form the Trend Framework: our complete picture of consumerism today and where it’s heading.

Grab a glimpse of the Trend Framework below (clients of our TW:Premium Service have full access).

Having a robust and comprehensive Trend Framework allows us to assess the implications of the hundreds, if not thousands, of innovations we receive from TW:IN (TrendWatching’s global network of spotters) every day. Meaning we can keep spotting and sharing great trends.


This trend will keep evolving...

The AFRICA INSIDE OUT trend sits under three mega-trends in our Framework.

POST-DEMOGRAPHIC is the mega-trend via which we track the evolution of demographic segmentation, customer identity and tribes. Meanwhile, LOCAL LOVE is the mega-trend via which we track the quest for a more local context, and the consumer desire for more authenticity and cultural pride. Finally, REMAPPED is the mega-trend that follows the shifting dynamics of the global economy, including emerging markets, urbanization, globalization and the diaspora.

Seeing AFRICA INSIDE OUT in the context of those three mega-trends helps us understand where the trend came from, and, more importantly, where it’s going next.


Customer expectations wait for no one – so GET GOING!


Don't forget that things have moved on...

Simply attempting to force-feed younger consumers (who this trend ultimately targets) with age-old traditions will seem out-dated and regressive. Like Olalekan Jeyifous' futuristic depiction of Makoko Canal in Lagos (seen here), always consider how you can add a contemporary spin to your AFRICA INSIDE OUT offerings. After all, it's all about being relevant, and of course – exciting these new generations.


Authenticity will always be a good litmus test.

Short cuts never work. For 'Celebrating Outwards', discerning consumers will always spot a patronizing branded depiction or a copy-and-paste campaign that attempts to jump on the 'faddish' bandwagon. Remember: the only brands that people genuinely appreciate are those that make the effort to engage with locals or dig deep into whichever story they're attempting to tell (or sell).


Want to take it to the next level?

At our upcoming 2016 Trend Events in Singapore (sold out!), Sydney, Chicago, London and Amsterdam you'll hear about THE trends that will shape consumerism in 2017 and beyond. And hear from innovators in the field already putting those trends into action!


New expectations can come from anywhere!

And today, customer expectations cross geographical borders faster than ever. So why not broaden your (G)LOCAL trend sources and subscribe to our free Global, South & Central America and Asia Trend Briefings?



Gather your team and start brainstorming on how you'll serve new expectations around AFRICA INSIDE OUT. Our free CONSUMER TREND CANVAS ideation tool can help!