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Opinion

African Communications Industry is in Need of an Overhaul. Here’s How it Can be Done

By- Steve Babaeko

In the last decade, advertising has taken several unprecedented turns. The disruptions caused by digitalisation, technology, and unnatural incidents on the practice as we knew it, have been immense. Also, a drastic change in consumer habits over the years has been no less impactful on how advertising is practised globally.

We continue to witness how a constant shift in digital innovations prompts the biggest advertising companies around the world to scramble to adapt and adopt new strategies to reach consumers. The recent metaverse rave, for instance, currently presents advertisers with a chance to market to consumers as they interact and socialise in virtual spaces.

We also can’t ignore how the Covid-19 pandemic has added to the dynamics of our practice. Digital streaming reigned supreme as consumers stayed at home and became committed to watching more videos and other forms of media consumption, necessitating swift actions to meet them where they are most comfortable.

It should be clear by now that advertising has become more complex than ever before, as it is a common prediction that we are yet to see the last of these types of disruptions – digital or otherwise. These indicators are why it is a special time in the history of advertising to forge and introduce strategic adaptations that will keep us a step ahead and mitigate the impact of possible disruptions in the future.

An outstanding factor we must consider in developing workable strategies to confront peculiar challenges presented by these sweeping changes in our industry is how the consumer market continues to expand, especially in Africa.

Africa, with a potential market of 1.7 billion people, is one of the fastest-growing consumer markets in the world. Consumer expenditure on the continent has grown at a compound annual rate of 3.9 per cent since 2010 and reached $1.4 trillion in 2015. This figure, to echo McKinsey & Company, is projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025 and $2.5 trillion by 2030. The World Bank also projects that by 2030, the largest consumer markets in the world will include Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa, while similar lucrative opportunities will arise in Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Tanzania, and other African countries.

Of this market size, the youth population in Africa makes a significant number. Young people account for 60% of the continent’s population according to UNESCO. By 2030, there are expected to be 350 million young people aged 15-24 on the continent.

Due to their nature, developing strategies to cater to this demographic is becoming a more challenging task with each passing year. Compared to a decade ago, the younger generation, with access to the latest technology tools and information at lightning speed, react and consume differently. Young consumers’ demand and affiliation for brands that show concern for their struggles mean that it has become even more pertinent to understand them, know their interests and wants, and continuously develop strategies that align with their needs.

As such, serving a community of consumers in a multi-channel world requires the adoption of smart digital tools, the adaptation of informed social insights and verifiable data, and a deeper understanding of psychology.

These rapidly changing market dynamics are why how we do advertising must evolve. Companies like Apple, Dunkin’, Tupperware, and Domino’s that have hitherto foreseen the necessity for the evolution of advertising have done so by either making new tweaks or by way of a total rebrand.

It is important to note, however, that in adopting new advertising tactics to meet consumer demands, companies must get it right.

The world will remember how, in its bid to revamp its service for consumers in 2013, Yahoo! came under public scrutiny and heavy criticism for failing miserably in its attempted rebrand with a shoddy switch up of its logo. The rebrand fail ultimately resulted in the company’s loss of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in advertising revenue.

For X3M Ideas, our understanding of the advertising industry’s current reality in relation to the young consumer base in Africa ignites our desire to proffer solutions that will satisfy brand and client demands as we move on to our next chapter.

After 10 years of being a one-stop-shop marketing communications company that’s 100% built on ideas and leveraging partnerships that, backed by sound strategy and unique thinking, seek to deliver the most effective results, we are adopting a new proposition named ‘Finding X’.

Our adoption of this unprecedented actionable framework aims to provide unique solutions to the constantly changing consumer demands and habits in the advertising landscape. By design, our new Finding X framework, categorised into an adaptable A, B, and C formula, will unearth transformative products and services necessary for providing existing and future clients with a competitive edge and also advance global advertising practice.

With Finding X, our goal of redefining the way advertising is practised and perceived in Nigeria and Africa remains. Only that this time, we will rev up our strategy of studying and understanding the consumer. We will further expand our reach through digital and interactive media, and measure the impact of every campaign for further improvement.

Strategically, the significance of the Finding X framework is what inspires a rebrand of our logo and website, with the X in the X3M emblem now more pronounced than ever.

So, what is our X? What unique brand values do we intend to communicate? And what is our modus operandi for the next decade? The answers lie therein.

The X in X3M represents many things. The unknown – the X-files; the hidden treasure – X marks; the spot and; the magic ingredient –  the X factor. We can use it in all these ways. And Finding X is tantamount to finding gold; the gold of consumer engagement. The discovery tool will allow us to find the X for our existing and future clients in the representation of their brands, products or services and by such, give them an edge over their competitors. It is a logical step, backed by research and knowledge of human behaviour, to arrive at idea spaces unique to each brand.

This framework will also prove a distinctive blueprint for advertisers in and outside Africa to maximise the continent’s consumer market potential over the next decade.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the African ad market to contract by nearly a quarter according to market research data. Africa was also the smallest regional ad market worldwide within the period with a $5 billion investment after advertising spending on the continent shrunk by over 23 per cent from $6.52 billion a year earlier. Projections indicate positive but low growth rates on the continent in upcoming years, with the decline unlikely to change soon.

Understanding the fastly changing market dynamics in relation to consumer engagement and satisfaction and designing strategies tailored to meet their needs will offer a sustainable pathway to turn the tides in no distant time.

X3M Ideas’ Finding X framework and rebrand are borne out of the burning desire to provide brands, clients and advertisers with these necessary creative solutions. And our commitment to further innovations and collaborations to impact the world, while staying true to the values that set us apart, is solidly unshaken as we turn the book to our next chapter.

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