The Villager: How Africans Consume Brands
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When Feyi Olubodun, CEO of one of West Africa’s leading creative agencies, witnessed one too many cases of brands failing in the African marketplace he began to ask himself questions: Why did brands, both global and local, so often fail to connect with the African consumer? And, what was it about the African market that brand owners were not seeing?
He began to reflect on his own marketing experiences and out of this emerged the framework for The Villager. In Feyi’s view, the African consumer begins his life’s journey by moving from the village, his rural dwelling, to the city, carrying with him not only his own dreams but also the dreams of his community. He is a highly aspirational consumer, motivated to succeed, and he becomes the economic portal for the rest of his community back home. But although he may be exposed to global influences and technology, his essential identity remains largely intact. This is why Feyi calls the African consumer a Villager. The Village is no longer a physical space; it is a psychological construct that defines him and the filter through which he engages with and consumes brands.
In developing his construct, Feyi posits that if you wish to engage successfully in a market you may not understand, you must have the right lenses to view a people. He believes the secret lies in applying these lenses at the confluence of commerce, culture and consumer. Data is not enough to understand the vagaries of a particular market. Drawing on his wide experience and wealth of astute observations, he provides a highly readable and indispensable guide to the mindset of the African consumer today, yet it is true to say that his insights apply, albeit in a more nuanced way, to consumer behaviour across the globe.