Growth is likely to remain strong and it’s predicted that a further 168-million subscribers will be added by 2020.

Despite this, mobile marketing has yet to gain traction in many countries. For example, a recent survey covering 12 major sub-Saharan nations found that, while 52% of people are aware of the existence of mobile advertising, it has a high recall rate among only 6% of them. 

South Africa remains dominant in mobile marketing in the sub-Saharan region, but several other countries are enjoying strong growth off low bases – notably Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. For the greater part, strategies still rest heavily on simple SMS and related Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platforms. The latter permits mobile phones to communicate with the mobile service provider's computers. In turn, this enables services such as mobile money transfer and menu-based information services to be accessed through the phone.

As a result, Africa has spawned innovative mobile SMS and USSD ad-driven strategies. Among them is the ChiChi sponsored call campaign, which requires a consumer to enter a unique USSD code on their phone and add the mobile number of a person they want to speak to. They immediately receive an automated return call and, as a reward for listening to a 15-second advertisement, are connected to that person for one minute, courtesy of the ad sponsor.

A campaign for Unilever’s Shield deodorant, for example, attracted at its height 5 000 calls an hour. Shield also achieved a 22% mobile coupon issuance rate, a level way ahead of a 3% coupon issuance rate achieved, at best, by traditional media.

Continuing with the mobile marketing theme, this issue of Strategic Marketing Africa also examines how a project in Nigeria is providing a blueprint for mobile-based market research globally.

In early 2016, a world-first retail census of 1.9-million retail outlets across the country was completed using only mobile technology. This eliminated the lag, inaccuracy and cost associated with traditional data-gathering methods and turned the notion of Africa being ‘unreachable’ in market research terms on its head.

Other articles in this issue include a look at the habits of Africa’s Generation Z consumers and a report on how Airbnb is disrupting the continent’s tourism industry.

Strategic Marketing Africa is published four times a year and distributed through AMC member organisations in Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Indian Ocean Islands. It is also available in selected airline lounges.

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