VITAL CONSUMER RESEARCH - NOT SO EASY TO ATTAIN IN AFRICA
Gaining research in the collective African market is a complicated task for multinational corporations and field researchers who facilitate and expand on operations to collect invaluable knowledge about consumer markets and trends - the borders expand through a highly diverse melting pot of cultures, traditions and languages. It is to the fullest advantage of researchers to understand African markets and the importance of relative engagement, as quantitative data should only be considered full-proof if it has been gathered in a research practice that is acceptable, comforting and engaging towards that market. This vital consumer knowledge can ultimately affect the results of any African research expedition - the line between useless or insufficient data and legitimate data is paper thin. This article explores the research practices in Africa and the most prevalent challenges that are faced.
THE PROBLEM WITH FOCUS GROUPS AND IN-PERSON COLLECTION TECHNIQUES IN AFRICA
The research practices in Africa will be found consistent for the majority of the continental landscape, with a few countries allowing specialised and niche consumer markets to be targeted using more technologically advanced methods of gaining research. We see a pattern of an analog, pen & paper fashion of recording qualitative insights in most African countries. To engage on a personal level and draw quantitative elements from African markets, companies and researchers organise relatively large-scale events for which mass markets are invited to partake in focus groups and research practices accommodating larger groups of people. It can be a massive hurdle to ensure that a substantial amount of the market pitches due the reliance of public transport and miscommunication location. In countries such as South Africa, the social landscape has allowed researching to become personalised, and often times field workers will visit the homes of consumers to execute a face to face Q & A enabling the communication of insightful and impactful information. There is a truth behind the closed doors of human nature which grants a window of opportunity if research companies are able to engage directly with people. If moderators share cultural, religious or territorial similarities with their markets, the likelihood of reaching further into the consumer psyche is tremendously greater.
DATA COLLECTING VIA MOBILE FOR RESEARCH ACROSS AFRICA
A brick wall in the way of advancing the scope on research technology in Africa is the lack of such tools on the receiving end. Research companies may have access to state of the art consumer tech - but this doesn’t mean that their markets do. The inability to utilise efficient data collecting tools can be a threat to the costing structure and feasibility of Afrocentric operations on the ground. In addition, some slowly developing countries are out of reach for market communication and risk factors such as civil wars or social upheaval marka borders for inaccessible data sourcing. On the upside of the lack of high end technology in Africa, mobile internet and cellular connectivity has become a viral spread in the continent, pegging South Africa as the hub of global mobile research. Even in countries where internet is not available on cellphones, the USSD protocol, whereby messages of up to 182 characters can be viewed and responded to, is commonly practiced and effective for quickfire quantitative research.
THE MAIN CHALLENGES OF CONSUMER RESEARCH ACROSS AFRICA
Ultimately, there are three central challenges which result in the instability of research in 21st century Africa: Human faults - the market research is reliant solely on the trust of outsourced moderators. Quality control is important in efficiently researching consumers and may fall victim to the lack thereof. Language barriers - translators are the cornerstones of many african research practices. This can turn out financially disastrous when interpretation is misconstrued, especially when receiving qualitative feedback form large groups of people. Time & cost - Due to the nature of time management and data collection in the Pan-African landscape, valuable research has a risk of being presented to clients or management and being acted upon when the climate of the consumer market has already shifted to a new mindset. There seems to be a trend of infusing African research into the viral mobile rush which is apparent in the developing continent. As affluent markets rise to connect and engage with international brands, mobile research may find itself needing to revert back to the older, more personalised methods of understanding the shifts in the consumer market of Africa. The combination of utilising these two strengths should allow all bases to be covered in ensuring that vast heaps of crucial insights can be drawn from the continent. For further insight into the market trends of the South African communication landscape, read here about Springleap’s monthly trend report. If you’d like to use Springleap’s Creative Insights division to dive into category or country level insights, please check out our offerings at www.Springleap.com/research Contributed by Cameron Smith