Your Key International Market? What Africa may mean to your company

Ed Marsh | Sep 17, 2012

Vast Frontier and fast growing markets

Tired and frustrated with the incessant challenges and slow progress penetrating BRIC markets?  You and everyone else that has tried to grow their businesses there.  Sure, some succeed with enviable results in profits and prestige.  But success in the BRICs takes a real long-term commitment of resources including money and senior executive energy.

It seems you've got three choices.
  1. Quit - forget about export growth.  Withdraw and concentrate just on your domestic market.  (Just out of curiosity, have you done the risk analysis on this approach?)
  2. Persevere - put your head down and just keep at it in the BRICs.  This may or may not be the right approach depending on how much progress you have made, how much you've invested, etc.
  3. Pursue alternatives - step back from the BRICs and identify other market opportunities in countries with lower barriers and substantial enough growth prospects to move your revenue needle substantially - even if they don't have in excess of 1B people.
Realistically a combination of options 2 & 3 probably makes sense.  But what alternatives are worth considering?

Emerging or already emerged

Often the discussion of emerging markets actually focuses on fast growing markets which have substantially already emerged.  There is still great growth opportunity, particularly if you select markets wiht favorable demographics.  But the "early mover" opportunity to establish channel, brand recognition and momentum has passed to a large degree.

This generally describes the situation in ASEAN, for instance.  The ASEAN markets remain phenomenal opportunities for American companies - but they have transitioned from explosive growth to merely fast growth. 

One region has yet to undergo the emergence metamorphosis - Africa.  An enormous continent with hugely disparate cultures, circumstances and opportunity, Africa is a collection of many markets - several of which are on the cusp of amazing growth.

Nuanced, complicated and very, very foreign

The challenge of expansion into Africa is that it is an enormous and complicated "market" - and very different than NAFTA and Western European markets.  In fact, Africa can hardly be distilled into a single market - it is a continent after all.

So how can American companies identify a place to start?  Beginning with Consilium's new "Africa - Vast Frontier and Fast Growing Markets" whitepaper provides a foundational understanding of the scope of the African opportunity.

New Call to action

Grounded in an overall perspective, companies should research specific African opportunities just as they would markets for entry in any region.  Demand for the product, favorable trends (including demographics) and reasonable expectations for return and timetable will influence which opportunities are appropriate for early action.

South Africa is a market with which many American companies have already established trade connections, and it can form a reasonable base for other efforts in the region.  The fast growing, dynamic markets of Ghana and Nigeria represent exciting potential for companies willing to experiment ahead of many of their competitors.  But it's worth noting that companies from other regions are already active here.  So it may feel quite early for an American company, but the opportunity is being actively pursued.  And in this market where the middle class will double over the next 15 years and exploding consumption will require investment in all areas (like doubling aircraft fleets) the potential to grow dramatically through export is real.

Want to discuss how your company could leverage the amazing African emergence?  Contact Consilium today to discuss that, ASEAN or other markets of interest.