JOHANNESBURG: African consumers are significantly more brand conscious than those in other countries as a new report reveals that a majority identify strongly with brands as status items.

Boston Consulting Group (BCG) polled 10,000 African consumers in eight countries – Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa – to determine their shopping behaviours, purchase intentions and planned spending for more than 20 different product categories.

It found that that 70% of respondents felt brands represented who they were and communicated their personal values. This compared to 40% of consumers in Brazil, 29% in China and an average of 24% in developed markets.

Given this attitude, it was perhaps unsurprising that the brands that contributed most to self-expression and personal identity were less likely to be FMCG items than durables and clothing. Everyone (99%) could name their favourite phone brand and an almost equally high proportion (89%) could do the same for clothing.

But, noted BCG, the relative strength of a brand could also reflect the level of investment in brand building in any given country. In this regard, multinationals with global brands had an advantage of scale over local brands, which tended to be more fragmented.

The report also observed that brand attitudes could often be in conflict: 70% of respondents thought established brands were best, but African consumers were also three times more likely than consumers in other countries to be scornful of their parents' choice of brands.

BCG took two lessons from this. First it suggested that there would be a warm reception for multinationals with well-established brand portfolios entering the African market for the first time.

Second, this finding emphasised "the importance of rebranding or remaking more traditional brands to better resonate with a changing, more sophisticated, and more demanding African consumer".

Data sourced from BCG; additional content by Warc staff