Cameroon like most African countries is full of unexploited opportunities, increase in population, improvement in living standards, high purchasing power and more and more consumers ready to try new things. Below we have compiled some simple but important factors that might be of interest to firms and individuals who might be thinking of marketing their products and services in Cameroon.
Cameroon is the largest market in Central Africa and second largest economy in the CFA zone, i.e., French-speaking Africa with a GDP of 29.27 billion American dollars generated in 2013.Cameroon is a gateway to neighboring markets, this makes Cameroon one of the major Countries in French speaking Africa to market your products and services.
The Literacy rate of Cameroon is estimated at 71.3% with 78.3 % male vs. 64.8% Females (2010 estimates). Cameroon has a high literacy rate relative to Sub-Saharan Africa. This fact gives marketers and advertising agencies and idea on how to carry out a market research study and what type of marketing channels should be used in promoting products and services in Cameroon.
Cameroon has a Population of 23,130,708 and a population growth rate of 2.6% (2013 estimates). This represent a large consumer market. China’s over 1 billion population back in 1998 with very low purchasing power attracted almost every international company seeking for growth, also in Africa, Nigeria’s 170 million populations is part of the reason its Africa’s number one economy today. Cameroon population in itself represents a huge consumer market to promote your products and services but what is more interesting is its strategic position in Sub Sahara Africa and the high level of inter trade between neighboring countries such as Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo and Chad. Coming into Cameroon could be consider as a gateway to central African Market and to an extend to the Sub Sahara African market. Investing or marketing your products and services in Cameroon has the potential of reaching 250 million African consumers.
Cameroon has two official languages, English and French. Anglophones make up 20% of the population while Francophones are 80% of the population. About 50% of adult Cameroonians speak both French and English. When promoting your products and services in Cameroon, you will of course use both languages or at least French depending on the type of product or service you want to promote. However, there is a third widely used but unofficial language, Pidgin English, this language is spoken in every major city in Cameroon. Many companies in Cameroon especially in the telecommunication sector use it to target a segment of the population (17-35years).
Cameroon has a GD of : $29.27billion (2013) GDP growth 5.5%. Increase in GDP is an indication of economic growth and with economic growth there is possibility of a chain reaction; increase in employment and wages which eventually leads to an increase in purchasing power and living standards. Cameroonian consumers are known for their price sensitive nature but increase in living standards gradually creates niches for various premium products. The market for cheap fast moving consumer goods and cheap items is gradually getting saturated and more and more people are looking for differentiation and better quality items.
Cameroon has two major cities: Douala 2.449 million; YAOUNDE (capital) 2.432 million (2011). Douala is the economic capital where many international companies have their headquarters in Cameroon. The Douala seaport and international airport are the main channels of goods and services into Cameroon and parts of Central Africa. Douala is home of thousands of importers, wholesalers and distributors in Cameroon and it further attracts buying agents from all over Cameroon and neighboring countries. While Yaounde is the Administrative capital dominated by government main offices. The main access of goods into Yaounde are through the Yaounde international airport, national railway and road transport. Large companies willing to promote their products and services in Cameroon cannot do without these two cities. These are the cities with the highest employment rate and purchasing power in Cameroon. These same cities attract millions of visitors from around Cameroon and central Africa per year. This transient population represents a potential market to your brand, products or service.
Cameroon Imports goods and services worth $6.795 billion according to 2013 estimate. Machinery, electrical equipments, transport equipments, fuel, and food are Cameroons major imports. Most of these goods comes from China 18.7%, France 14.9%, Nigeria 12.3%, Belgium 5.2%, US 4.4%, India 4.2% (2012 est.)Cameroon imports far much than it exports due to the lack of a well developed manufacturing sector and the necessary technology to transform its raw materials into finish products. Most importers in Cameroon buy from companies they find online but little marketing and promotion is done locally by foreign exporters to promote their products and services in Cameroon. It will be extremely advantages to make your company known locally and connect with wholesalers, agents and distributors.
Cameroon total Mobile phone users: 13.1 million (2012), 73% penetration rate. Fix phone users 737,400 (2012), 4 % penetration rate. This increase in mobile phone users creates a market for mobile phone manufactures to pay attention to the Cameroonian market by designing durable but less costly smart phones for Cameroonian market. The increase number of mobile phone users has made SMS marketing one of the most important forms of direct marketing in Cameroon.
Cameroon has about 1,480,365 Internet users, this represents 6.4% of total population (2013). Facebook subscribers, 562480 as of December 2012, 2.8% of the population. This shows that a vast majority of Cameroonians are not connected to the internet. Companies willing to promote their products and services in Cameroon cannot rely on online marketing alone. Depending on the product or service a combination of traditional and modern marketing techniques are highly recommended. The use of the internet and email is still limited, and few companies have websites or company email addresses for their employees. So, companies relying to get agents, distributors, buyers and business partners online will easily become frustrated. It is advisable to use a local agency to market your products and services in Cameroon.
To be noted!
No matter the strategic location of Cameroon in central Africa, its rise in middle a class, steady growth rate there still comes many challenges for companies to market their products and services or do business in Cameroon due to the high level of corruption and bureaucracy. Within these challenges lies a lot of great opportunities difficult to be ignored. The long term benefits largely outweighs any potential difficulties. This can be seen by the increasing presence of foreign brands in Cameroon. Marketing your products and services in Cameroon through a third party, agent, distributors, wholesalers, marketing agency represents a lesser challenge because you don’t have to deal with any issues of corruption or bureaucracy as your local contact should be able to spare you all the stress to put your products or service in front of potential clients. These same local contacts should be able to put you directly in contact with the right people in case you decide to enter the market fully, such as opening a branch.
Cameroon has a market for cosmetics, electronics, textiles, machinery, building materials, food, beverages, alcohols among many others, but very few foreign small and medium size enterprises that have a very large base of potential clients advertise their products and services locally.
Advertising in Cameroon is relatively cheap as compared to other developing countries. Companies willing to take advantage of this will eventually realize an increase in sales of their products and services in Cameroon.
Denis Wung is the Marketing manager of A54 Marketing Group.A54 offers a one-stop shop solution to small and medium size companies who want to market their products and services in Cameroon. We go above and beyond to market your products and services. To get advice on how to market your products/services, obtain market information, strategy to identify customers in Cameroon and get qualified local agents, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.a54marketinggroup.com
Subscribe on our website to receive our next article,how to target university students and youths in Cameroon.