My 2016 Market Research predictions in Africa

Back in March, the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) conducted a survey of marketers in Africa to get a state of the marketing landscape in Africa. Among the main challenges facing marketers in Africa, more than 60% of them said the lack of reliable local market (media consumption and retail performance) was one of the main obstacles in generating insights in Africa.

45% of respondent agreed that a lack of infrastructure is the key barrier to effective market research with one marketer citing “African solutions to these challenges.

If 2015 was the year where we got some sense of the current state of the market research landscape in Africa, it was also the year where several ground breaking projects/companies got serious about the data challenges of Africa. At SOKO, we’ve pioneered an innovative data collection platform and quickly grew our data supply from 1 country to 5 and collecting more than 200,000 data points via our consumer survey product. We can get responses from regular (connected or not) Africans within two weeks.

Here are my predictions for 2016

  1. Africa data collection infrastructure will improve — Most agencies in Africa collect data via face-to-face surveys. The process works since the labor is relatively cheap but makes research and results prone to operational errors and very expensive. Given the high penetration of mobile of Africa, mobile collection has exploded over the last 3 years with major players such as Jana or OnDevice research driving the trend. With mobile research, marketers / researchers are able to reach a lot of respondents in a short period of time. During Pope Francis election back in 2013, Jana ran a 20000 people, 4 questions poll across 11 countries in just 4 days. The main drawback of mobile is the real estate (limited number of questions) and response rate (can be low).
  2. Internet (in addition to mobile) becomes a big channel for data collection — Internet is providing a new infrastructure that will allow online surveys to be deployed quickly and to a large audience as well. The main drawback is the low internet penetration in many areas of Africa but the addition fiber networks (to be built or completed) should boost the internet penetration in the next 5 years. Internet can allow for more complex surveys, better user experience, better survey management and quicker data analysis.
  3. African solutions to data collection challenges are tested and can be trusted — In terms of African solutions to the data collection, I believe a hybrid process (offline/online — mobile/internet) will eventually lead to better results at an affordable cost. Moreover the hybrid collection allows people with internet access (via mobile or laptop) and people with no internet access (can’t afford data plans) to participate in surveys. This type of data collection for Africa will dramatically change market research on the continent over the next 5 year.
  4. More stories, business, policies decisions are taken using data — In 2015 there has been calls from policy makers, researchers and media to embrace data in process and decision making. I am expecting to see more partnerships between media, market research firms, businesses, institutions and data providers to enhance the content, build the trust and measure impact.
  5. Be aware of the new breed of Africa experts — Given the opportunities and the prospects in Africa, I have seen a lot of people from Europe, US or else travelling to Africa for couple of weeks and claiming to be Africa experts. The real experts are Africans themselves as they still hold the keys to their prosperity. I am dead serious when I say that.

At SOKO Insight, we will continue to grow the platform (Mali, Benin, Tanzania) are next but most importantly, we will continue to get answers to your business questions, not from experts but from Africans themselves — your customers, your stakeholders or partners in doing business and being successful in Africa.

We wish you a successful and dataful 2016!

Yannick Lefang, Founder @SOKO Insight