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Made in Africa: Africa’s Brands Coming Of Age

Made in Africa: Africa’s Brands Coming Of Age

From The Africa Report.

Family-owned African companies that have been steadily growing their consumer brands over the past decade or so are starting to compete with international brands on the continent.

Companies such as Kenya’s Bidco and Kapa, and Angola’s Refriango are well-known and woven into the economy, but their founders didn’t necessarily market them aggressively, according to an article in The Africa Report. Now the founders’ children are ramping up marketing and distribution and investing in regional expansion to boost brand recognition.

Africa’s “B brands” are coming of age.

Bharat Thakrar is CEO of Kenya-based Scangroup, one of Africa’s largest advertising and marketing groups. He calls these local companies B-brands because they tend to represent a lower tier of competition, he said in The Africa Report.

B-brands grew 25-30 percent in some sub-Saharan African markets in 2011.

Historically, Thakrar says, B-brand products have been underpriced, with firms investing little in marketing.

That’s changing.

“They’re creating that brand love and brand equity. They’re local, they’re low priced, (and) in terms of quality they’re as good as the top brands,” says Thakrar.

For example, Azam Cola debuted in 2011, a first foray into the carbonated drinks market for Tanzanian family-owned company Bakhresa.

A year and a half later, the drinks have 30 percent market share.

After 12 years in business, Kenyan company Bidco sells a range of kitchen products from Kimbo cooking fat to Powerboy washing powder and Biddy’s margarine in 16 countries in East, Central and Southern Africa.


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“Our goal is to be number one in Africa by 2030,” says Mitul Shah, Bidco team leader for sales and marketing.

It’s easy to compete with international companies, Shah says. “We don’t make decisions in Paris, in Dubai, or in London or Atlanta. Decisions are made here within minutes.”

Bidco communicates in multiple local languages, seven in Kenya alone.

Scangroup’s Thakrar says some multinational companies have been lazy in their approach, running the same advertising in multiple countries.

A Tanzanian housewife can see that the woman in a detergent commercial is Nigerian, and it is clear when ads are dubbed and have no local nuance, he said in The Africa Report.

Kim MacIlwaine, CEO of consumer research company TNS in Africa and the Middle East,  sees increasing demand from multinational companies for research into lifestyle habits.

African consumers are among the most discerning, “not least because they don’t have very much money to spend,” he said in the report. “They really make their choices very consciously and very rigorously, often based on what they know works.”

Read more at The Africa Report.