Brands should see mobile as the principal channel for advertising and marketing to African consumers, according to a white paper published by M&C Saatchi Mobile. “Contrary to popular thinking, Africa is not an underdeveloped region – it’s the second largest and fastest-growing mobile phone market in the world after China,” says James Hilton, global CEO of M&C Saatchi Mobile. “The large numbers of African mobile consumers with web-connected smartphones using their device to surf the Internet or download apps shows that the assumption that mobile services in Africa are only about SMS and low-end handsets is seriously out of date.”
And the demographics are key in Africa. Around 310 million people, or 34% of the population, is deemed to be middle class, and by 2060, 1.1 billion are expected to be classified as middle-class citizens. This growing segment is contributing strongly to the growth of mobile. This year, smartphone sales in Africa are forecast to spike 56% – two times higher than the global average.
And already, smartphone penetration is rather more advanced than widely assumed. In Nigeria, 25% of mobile consumers own such a device. Elsewhere, 22% of Egyptians own a smartphone, as do 18% of Ghanaians, 17% of people from Cameroon, 13% of Kenyans and 11% of Senegalese. Clearly, there is already an established smartphone base in Africa.
Africans respond well to mobile advertising, with SMS response rates of up to 30% on offers, and 60% on surveys, the white paper points out. And 69% of African consumers are already very or somewhat comfortable with mobile advertising. However, they do view the purpose of advertising somewhat differently from Western consumers. For instance, Africans see ‘helping me find new information’ as the number-one benefit of mobile advertising, likely because, with limited functionality, the handset is less of an entertainment device.
“Brands are already using mobile effectively and seeing high click-through rates of between 6% and 21%, depending on the campaign and the category,” says M&C Saatchi Mobile. “At the moment, the majority of large mobile campaigns include simple banners, splash screens and text adverts across properties such as 2Go and BBC mobile, but as the technologies advance other opportunities will become available.”