With a solid understanding of the opportunity, companies seeking to do business in Africa must deliver a relevant, differentiated offering tailored to their target consumers, as they must do in any geography. African consumers have unique requirements that companies must take into account. For example, price remains the key consideration for the majority of African consumers, and all offerings should take this into consideration. In addition, community and family are strong elements of African culture, so companies need to ensure that branding and promotional efforts resonate with these values— for example, through corporate social responsibility and sustainable development programs. As we showed in the previous section, distinct segments of African consumers have unique needs and preferences that companies must incorporate into their value propositions.
Consumer goods giants such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble have excelled in understanding and meeting the unique needs of African consumers. Unilever, which aims to serve all African consumers (including the Basic Survivors, those living on less than $1 each day), had to find a profitable way to make its products available and affordable for the poorest of Africans. To achieve this goal, Unilever created the “small unit packs/low unit price” concept: for example, selling small sachets of detergent or salt. This strategy has allowed Unilever to deliver the volumes required to support expansion whilst capturing the loyalty of lowerincome customers. This strategy has also prevented the margin-eroding resale of its bulk products in smaller portions. Unilever collaborates closely with local wholesalers who not only assist Unilever to supply Africa’s informal market but also provide the company with market insights and customer feedback. Unilever has embedded corporate social responsibility in its strategy to further boost the brand’s relevance with Africans.
Develop the Value Proposition: Unilever • Unilever sought to reach Africa’s poorest consumers profitably. • To do so it developed small packets of product at low prices, worked closely with local wholesalers, and worked to become relevant to Africans. • The company has had double-digit growth in the region during the past decade.