There are two Nigerian cosmetic brands – Zaron and House of Tara – that are fast inducting many more young entrepreneurs into business of beauty and creating jobs across West Africa. The Nigerian women behind these brands are revolutionaries in Africa.
In West Africa, religion and tradition are strictly adhered to. In this environment, a woman choosing a career as a beautician would be frowned upon and castigated two decades ago. But that was then; we now have millionaire beauty experts in Africa and many promising young women emerging in the beauty industry around the continent.
This is an element of the big shift in Africa’s business sphere. Businesses now operate in a society with young, self-conscious and independent consumers. Cosmetics and makeover artists are thriving amid this attitude of young people.
The presence of this younger generation on social media, with features such as ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ and selfies, are evidence of their “look at me” attitude. Businesses are thriving on this need for attention by young consumers.
For entrepreneurs, this clamour for attention demands a strategy that focuses on young consumers. The current African market must leverage this emotional need.
Let’s consider the initiative Coca-Cola introduced to the market in 2015. I saw an alarming rush in Nigeria for the bottles of Coca-Cola that had consumers’ names on the labels. This supports the notion that young consumers will enthusiastically respond to businesses that pay attention to their emotional yearning.
The Marketing Director of Coca-Cola in Western Europe, Lucie Austin, says “the campaign capitalized on the global trend of self-expression and sharing but in an emotional way”. The result was phenomenal. Within six months of launching, there were 330 million impressions on Twitter. The company’s reported earnings jumped by 19% and a statement from Coca-Cola says “the consumers had voted for the strategy with their dollars, the proof of which was Coke’s higher sales of products”.
What does this mean for an African entrepreneur? It means your business can benefit from an army of teenagers and millennials who are interested in personal symbols within products and services. Africa’s consumers are interested in brands that honor them and display it to the public. They are seeking attention in an economy that had a culture of suppressing the voices of minorities. In a culture where most women and children are to be seen but not heard, businesses that recognize the emotional needs of these people will gain popularity, and eventually loyalty.
This also means that consumers are the most important factor of production. African entrepreneurs may be heading into the “prosumer” season as coined by American futurist Alvin Toffler in 1980. A prosumer is a person that consumes and produces.
In my personal view, customer satisfaction, rather than customer service, will be the game changer for businesses that focus on their end user. This is only realistic when attention is shifted to consumers. The smart choice for any entrepreneur is to start paying attention to people’s interests. – Written by Victor Mamora