Cameroon might still be plagued with other problems according to the “ease of doing business report” that scares away some foreign investors, but it is difficult to deny the fact that it is the most sought-after country in Central Africa and a gateway to over 250million consumers.
According to the latest World Bank report, Cameroon has been experiencing a steady rise in GDP and growth rate there by creating a new group of people, neither rich nor poor, better living standards and a disposal income between 2-20 Dollars a day. This group of people are better known as the middle class. This new class of people have a taste for comfort and fine things in life, many which are not produced or offered locally, thereby creating the need for many foreign companies to diversify into such a market.
However, it is one thing to spot the existence of a rising Cameroonian middle class but it is another thing to know what they want and how to target and convince them to become your clients. They might have a higher disposal income but they are not yet have a consumerist mentality and will compare prices and go only with what they need irrespective of the extend of promotional campaigns or service offerings . It is a well know fact that many marketing and business strategies that works elsewhere must be adapted to the African or Cameroon market. The one size fits all strategy is out of date.
The middle class mostly consists of the working population living in the big cities. Some of them are self employed with flourishing businesses while a good majority of them work in the public or private sector. With a monthly average discretionary income of about 200,000 FCFA (400$USD), the middle class is able to live a comfortable lifestyle as per Cameroon standards, with those working in the private sector earning slightly higher than those in the public sector and the average income of the self employed is well above the general middle class average.
- Households are shrinking in size as more women adopt advance birth control practices and increasing number of them becoming careerist. The smaller nature of the family allows for more discretionary income and hence an increase in buying power. This is a trend that is bound to create millions of middle class families in the next decade in Cameroon and across Africa.
- Products and services top on the list of this market segment include fast moving consumers goods such as groceries and other basic household needs, education, health, electronic appliances and cosmetics also represent the products in high demand. The market for leisure and luxury is also picking up with a segment of this group. Companies looking to invest in Cameroon or Africa will face stiff competition as a bevy of similar organizations are vying for this group segment.
- To effectively target and convince this class of the Cameroonian society, you need to understand their intrinsic buying behavior (what triggers them), what price range they can stretch into and what form of marketing and communication will pique their interest.
- Collectivism is common in most African societies; it is like a cultural phenomenon.Thus, It should be noted that many middle class, high and low income earners have other people in their network to support apart from their immediate family thereby reducing their disposal income. Therefore, their incomes should not be taken at face value.
- These are high and medium income earners; they are decision makers within households with the ability to buy in large quantities at a time. They can be sensitive to price as a result of them being the breadwinners of their households and try to get the best value for their money. They can be targeted through promotion messages, price reductions, coupons and other on the spot bonuses.
- The middle class of Cameroon is computer literate and mostly made up of university graduates, so there is a fluent assimilation of a company’s promotional messages. They’re prone to reading and dabble into all media. Companies should be able to use this to their advantage.
The most effective form of communication tools for this target group will include
Broadcast and Print media
A good number of the middle class population are interested in current events and news entertainment and as a result constitute of those who subscribe or buy local news papers. Companies using this medium to promote their products or services will be able to reach a vast number of their target population as part of this group is made up of workers who are likely to pick up a fresh newspaper on their way to work every day and watch TV in the evening and weekends..
Majority of the middle class owns a smart phone and are connected to the internet, mobile and online advertisement would be a smart decision for any company looking to do business in Cameroon. Most of the middle class are glued to their handset, Google and social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are their main area of focus. Also, local news and entertain blogs are great sites to promote a company’s products as they have gained local acceptance within the Cameroonian population. Utilization of these platforms will drive targeted traffic to the company’s website. Fun and knowledgeable content will have people coming back to the company’s website for more information about products and services.
Trade fairs and exhibitions
End of year in Cameroon comes with celebration, lots of festivities and trade fairs hosted in all major towns including Yaoundé and Douala where you have a greater percentage of the middle class. Since everyone is looking to get a good deal at such places, owning stands at such exhibitions and promoting company’s products and services through trade discounts, raffle draws and bogus buying will be a sure way to capture all group segments including your target population.
Direct marketing (direct email/newsletter)
Direct marketing can be cost effective and very powerful in garnering sales for an organization. Buy a mailing list from a local company and email clear offers directly to targeted group.
Text messaging is one sure way of getting the attention of this market segment as they depend largely on their phone for communication.
Sharing financial marketing tips, braking down the value of your products an other interesting related information concerning your sector of activity will win their confidence.
Other trade marketing, in store advertisement and other grassroots marketing techniques are necessary to target, convince and retain middle class clients in Cameroon and parts of Africa.
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