Tapping into Africa’s fast-growing consumer market: Insights backed by technology

Connecting African consumers to companies like Uber and Diageo through cutting-edge consumer insights

With household consumption and urbanization increasing on the continent, Africa represents a veritable gold mine for companies looking to expand their markets.

But this market remains largely untapped because companies rely on traditional methods to gather essential and valuable consumer insights, market research, and data. These methods usually require extensive legwork with face-to-face and labor-intensive practices. And even after all this input, the physical consumer research can often produce inaccurate data after long lead times.

Africa’s population will account for one-fifth of the world’s population by 2025, creating the world’s fastest-growing consumer market[1]. However, this consumer group has been largely forgotten by traditional market researchers, resulting in a disconnect between the products consumers get and the ones they need.

Stephan Eyeson

“Africa is the last market. These consumers are becoming increasingly valuable. Not only do companies need to understand their habits and trends in the region to unlock the market, but Africans also deserve access to products and services that fit the unique circumstances on the continent,” says Survey54 CEO and co-founder Stephan Eyeson.

Survey54 consumer research platform that provides solutions that simplify the process of survey creation, tracking and insights for marketing teams and researchers.

However, companies find it challenging to get accurate consumer research completed on the continent, especially at an affordable rate and quick turnaround time. This is why new research methods that embrace technology will stimulate economic growth in Africa, says Eyeson.

“We are making it easier by building technology that can reach those within rural areas and those from low to high-income cities. We are also making it more affordable, which allows small, medium, and large companies to make data-driven decisions that serve the needs of consumers on the continent.

Survey54 tackles the traditional challenges of data collection on the continent through dynamic market research channels, including data-free web link, USSD and data light mobile app.  The fast and responsive mobile-led platform has solved the major limitations caused by in-person data collection, using machine learning to predict trends through data.

This tech-first approach will become even more in demand as Africa’s younger population becomes income earners. In the next decade, consumers between 16 and 34 years old (53% of income earners in Africa) are likely to contribute more than $400 billion in total consumption growth[2].

The consumer research platform boasts more than 150 000 users regularly taking surveys and performing tasks in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. While looking to expand into African and emerging markets, Survey54 raised a pre-seed round of $500 000 in funding late last year.

“The platform provides innovative solutions that simplify the process of survey creation, tracking and insights for marketing teams and researchers,” says Eyeson.

The insights that marketers have always relied on are often drawn from research that is decades old[3]. But African markets are diversified, and consumers have varying needs – there is no one-size-fits-all approach in Africa’s fragmented markets, explains Eyeson.

This is why the cutting-edge technology has two arms: A self-serve platform, used by companies such as Diageo and Kelloggs to get survey responses from multiple African markets in minutes, and category trackers – used by companies such as Uber to understand transport within cities across Africa. Media companies can also track what consumers are watching and listening to on radio and TV.

Clients, Uber and Diageo, have reported that the platform provides them with deeper understanding of their clients, through insights that keep up with the ever-changing markets on the continent.

Eyeson adds: “We are on a mission to make pan-African consumer research easier for companies wanting to expand and understand this market. Companies need to make decisions backed by data, but also, we aim to enable small businesses and startups to actually gain consumer insights before launching products. We believe a lot of data still needs to be unearthed in Africa, and we hope to do that through our market research platform.”

[1] Brookings

[2] McKinsey

[3] Harvard Business Review