Media Report: Independent media research for growth
a The Media Report 2014 feature by Celia Collins. Brand and market decisions are still being made using gut instinct, despite the massive growth Africa is experiencing. As brands flock to the continent, investment in independent research is becoming more critical than ever.
Africa is a large and rapidly growing market for research, as seen in the numbers of funding opportunities open to researchers. The most frequent sponsors of research in Africa include the National Research Foundation, Medical Research Council in South Africa, UK Department for International Development and other research related to the financial, scientific and medical community.
But media and marketing research is another matter altogether. Despite the extraordinary growth of new products being brought into the continent, there are currently only some 24 African countries that have AMPS (All Media and Products Survey) studies or similar. These territories include Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon and Namibia.
The Pan African Media Research Organization (PAMRO) will present 16 of these reports at the organisation’s next conference in Ghana in 2015. These studies were done by the likes of IPSOS, TNS, AC Nielson, Plus 94, and Ask Africa and were largely self-funded.
But what about the sustainable nature of this self-funded research? I hear that there has not been enough support from Multinationals who aren’t purchasing the data in numbers. If this doesn’t become profitable, will it be sustainable? Will the research houses fund this research on an annual basis? Let’s just say I’m not too optimistic about this.
It’s ironic, because if there is so much growth, so much opportunity and interest in Africa from global brands, surely these brands should be investing in research to determine their ROI and place in the respective markets?
When it comes to technology and communication, research on the annual growth rates of mobile phones shows penetration has reached 69,3 per 100 inhabitants across Africa according to the International Telecommunication Union, as seen in the table below.
Mobile money has become a major success story in Africa. M-Pesa (Pesa means money in Swahili) was launched in Kenya in 2007 by Vodafone and grew to 17 million subscribers in some four years. The service was rapidly launched in Tanzania and then taken to Mozambique, Lesotho and Egypt, as well as Afghanistan and India. The mobile payment system was also brought to SA, but didn’t do as well in this territory, and is currently being relaunched.
Both feature-phones and smartphones are used for money transfers, savings and insurance payments, and these transactions are expected to exceed USD 200 billion by 2015, World Bank statistics cite. The same research indicates that there are over 40 million mobile money users worldwide, and almost half of these are in Kenya, a country with more cell phones than adults.
It is for this reason that PAMRO is helping countries to establish or expand ‘AMPS’ type Research. The organisation has engineered a generic establishment survey with technical and sampling guidelines for African countries for free. The survey includes a mobile questionnaire in the establishment survey to capture indicators of the fast growing culture and landscape.
As marketers we need to understand how mobile phone penetration is changing lives and increasing the repertoire of consumer behaviour as it relates, for instance, to the monthly ‘basket’ buy within the upper segments. We know that most low and middle segments do not have fridges and purchase products on their way to or from work, within an informal market which has hundreds or even thousands of products visible at any one time.
How do brands become relevant, without alienating the consumer by presuming they are able to apply traditional first world marketing strategies?
- Multinationals should start purchasing AMPS type data, as they do in first world markets, to understand the insights of African consumers. I believe if this is done we shall see that phenomenal growth we all so wish to see.
- I believe that local governments should help fund both quantitative and qualitative research into consumer purchase patterns across the continent. If they do, foreign investment into Africa could be tailored to individual countries or regions, allowing for even more growth.
- Additionally, this data will greatly assist with the creation and implementation of Government policies that are structured to not only help the public, but also increase business confidence.
- All too often marketing decisions in Africa are being made by gut instinct, or by following past models that worked in other continents. As marketers we have the opportunity to change this, but only if brands, governments and media owners play a role.
A robust model
South Africa is leading the charge on new ways to incorporate funding models for marketing research, and to structure research by medium. Within the next 12–18 months there should be a robust model which could be used for the rest of Africa with the formation of Joint Industry Committees and Best Practices.
The more independent marketing research becomes, and the more available that research is made in the open market, the better for Africa’s sustained growth and all who benefit from it.
— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every Monday and Thursday . Sign up here!