Western retailers move into AfricaTuesday, 12 June 2012
As countless magazines and online sites are looking at ‘rebranding Africa’ – even the IHT luxury conference will look at “the potential of Africa, both as a producer and ultimately consumer of luxury goods.” With this continent already inspiration for fashion trends and all things hyperculture, now key retailers such as Zara, Levis, Mango already actively shipping to Africa, many are looking at the continent as a new marketplace. Infact Gap have already announced plans to open in Morocco in October, on the back of successful Northern African sales figures.
Indeed research by the Economist Intelligence Unit shows that seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies are currently in Africa, with 70 percent of the continent’s population living in countries, which have enjoyed average economic growth rates in excess of 4 percent over the past decade. This steady progress has given rise to a growing middle class. In fact, approximately 310 million people on the continent are now deemed middle class (defined as those spending between $2 and $20 a day at 2005 prices) according to a 2011 report by the African Development Bank, driving demand for products like mobile phones, televisions and fashion.
“African consumers are no longer satisfied with a third or even second rate offering of products,” added a spokesperson for sportswear giant Adidas. “Their brand awareness is strongly driven by international media exposure through TV, but also through accelerated advancements in internet penetration and accessibility.”
With such an underlying and fairly unknown sophisticated consumer already place and growing access to Western TV, internet and other advertising and marketing activities, the fashion presence and activity in African regions is one that only looks set to grow, with South Africa as the most developed region leading the way for retail opportunities.