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Top 5 things you need to know about market research in Africa

Top 5 things you need to know about market research in Africa

In this article we will review:

In recent years, Africa has received much attention in terms of investment. This is due to the abundance of resources that can be converted into lucrative sources of income. Furthermore, the African consumer market has a diverse untapped potential. The needs and demands of the population in Africa can be turned into profitable investments with proper analysis and in-depth market research. This entails conducting strategic market research to accurately predict how successful a business will be in Africa. Highlighting essential aspects of market research in Africa will thus assist investors in taking the necessary precautions in their market research and scaling their ventures.

Market research in Africa, like in the rest of the world, is helpful for organizations to identify marketing strategies and assess business decisions using data. Just as you wouldn’t travel without planning, you shouldn’t create marketing strategies without researching and gathering data.

However, market research in Africa is a project you must adequately plan to unveil actionable insights and uncover the necessary information your business needs to grow. What, then, are the things that businesses should know and pay attention to when conducting market research in Africa? That is the question we want to answer.

What you need to know about market research in Africa

1-      Africa is a collection of 54 countries.

Looking through most of the business literature about Africa, the continent is frequently referred to as a single and presumably homogeneous entity; however, this assumption could not be more incorrect. While African countries share some characteristics, they vary in many others. Economic disparities between African countries can be enormous: South Africa’s GDP is 28 times that of comparably sized Niger. These differences are essential to remember when researching Africa, and paying attention to the numerous shades of difference between member states can mean distinguishing between a successful and a doomed business strategy. Considering aggregate statistics may be a great starting point, but any sound business strategy should delve deeply into the specific African geography it is targeting.

2-      Things aren’t well structured, which isn’t necessarily bad.

Things rarely, if ever, go as planned: A project plan is a good place to start, but it won’t get you very far. While conducting research in other parts of the world may imply following a well-marked path, doing so in Africa, particularly in complex geographies, can mean the exact opposite. A certain level of comfort with ambiguity is required for a successful business or market research project in Africa, which always comes with the added benefit of learning creative problem-solving skills.

3-      Africa is changing every day.

A report on a rapidly growing African country is out of date the year after it is published. Starting from a low base, the continent is now catching up with the rest of the world at an impressive rate: every year, millions of new Africans enter the ranks of world consumers, and new investments, often in the billions of dollars, are injected into African economies to develop new infrastructure projects, grow industrial platforms, or solidify the continent’s agricultural potential, which utterly and rapidly changes the African economic landscape.

4-      Information is available, but rarely where you expect to find it.

Finding information off the shelf is every market research professional’s dream. But that is precisely what it is for those conducting market research in Africa: a dream, as the reality can be quite the opposite. Primary interviews with the right people, which doesn’t necessarily mean senior executives, are almost always the only way to gather valuable and accurate data. Some of the most valuable insights come from people lower on the corporate ladder; they are in touch with the realities of their industry daily. So, if you’re serious about learning, don’t dismiss any ‘source.’

5-      It can be a lot of fun.

Market research in Africa can be complex at times, but if one can take a break and enjoy what the continent offers its business travellers, it can be a lot of fun. Africa provides its business visitors with rare opportunities to see incomparable natural landscapes just a few minutes drive from any significant African metropolis and engage in activities not readily available elsewhere, such as NGOs volunteering at the frontline of solving real development problems or taking remote Safaris in areas fortunately unaffected by urbanism. The real fun, however, comes from the shared experiences you will have as you meet and collaborate with remarkable and friendly African people.


Despite all of the challenges of market research in Africa, key opportunities still revolve around the continent’s potential for long-term development. Quality education and poverty alleviation are two examples of sustainable development. With the disparity occurring primarily in rural villages and the lack of infrastructure, the opportunity for long-term and impactful development exists.

Multiple organizations are taking extreme measures to improve these people’s lives, implying that Africa will undergo a revolutionary transformation in the long run. Governments are also making significant contributions to promoting sustainable development in multiple regions. As positive steps are taken, most of the challenges to market research in Africa are being addressed.

Insightfully, Africa’s growth is expected to be among the highest in the world in the coming years. Statistics also show that African countries account for the world’s fastest-growing economies. With major sectors experiencing unprecedented growth, people are better equipped to make profitable investment decisions. This means businesses are expected to thrive due to market research in Africa.

Conduct market research in Africa

Survey54 has extensive experience conducting research across Africa using our respondent database and mobile-based research methodologies. Contact Survey54 to improve your chances of obtaining reliable insights from your next African market research project.

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