Report The Diverse People of Africa

Report The Diverse People of Africa

With over one billion consumers—a number growing faster than that of any other continent—Africa boasts a wealth of potential. With young and quickly growing populations paired with a rising gross domestic product (GDP) that has grown faster than that of the rest of the world every year since 20011, African markets brim with opportunity. Traditionally viewed as an impoverished continent where few people have discretionary income, Africa’s middle class is growing at an astounding rate and the GDP per capita (PPP) has grown 26 percent in the past 10 years2. With its steadily rising incomes, African economies offer vast potential and rewarding growth opportunities.

Despite the exciting opportunities and considerable promise of the African continent, doing business here also comes with significant challenges. Aside from political turmoil, wide income disparities, and infrastructure shortfalls, one of the biggest issues facing marketers in Africa is its diversity.

Rather than just a continent, Africa must be viewed as 54 separate and distinct countries with a wide array of political, economic, geographical, cultural and social features. Even a single country like Nigeria has over 250 different ethnic groups and over 500 languages3 . In addition to the differences created by international borders, many African countries also boast incredible levels of internal diversity, which are impacted heavily by respective colonial histories. By and large, local consumers in each of the markets studied have remained loyal to the consumption patterns and ethnic tastes of their former colonial rulers. This fragmented cultural landscape presents a unique challenge to marketers trying to tailor their message to African consumers.

Nielsen provides a unique and in-depth view into the diverse behaviors and attitudes that shape the diversity of the African consumers. Through extensive research into the retail infrastructure and a comprehensive survey of urban and peri-urban consumers across Sub-Saharan Africa, Nielsen knows how Africans think, buy, and consume media. Based on these insights, seven unique consumer segments provide an intimate look into the diverse needs that will not only highlight latent potential of these countries, but will also enable accurate decision making to confidently determine where, when and how to invest in African markets.



Uncommon Diversity Requires an Uncommon Approach

As the tactics and strategies needed to reach consumers across Africa require different approaches due to varied beliefs and behaviors, each country also requires a unique strategy. To succeed in Africa, it is important to not only ensure distribution in an unorganized market, but it is just as critical to confront the challenge of delivering an affordable product that gains consumer trust through offering quality and value.

Learn more – download the full report:  The Diverse People of Africa.

About the Study

The Nielsen Emerging Market Insights Study provides an in-depth understanding of African markets and consumers. The study is based on face-to-face surveys from a sample of 5,000 urban and peri-urban residents between the ages of 15 and 45 across SEC groups A-E in and around key cities in seven Sub-Saharan African countries; Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. Five additional countries will be available mid-Q2 2012; Angola, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Findings from the study provide vital information into growth opportunities within the marketplace, insight into consumer attitudes that drive decisions on what African consumers watch and buy, and a fact-based understanding of how to reach consumers.


1. The World Bank: World Bank Development Indicators: World Bank national accounts data, and OECD National Accounts data files.

2. The World Bank: World Development Indicators: World Bank, International Comparison Program database.

3. CIA – The World Factbook.