Anand Kapoor: Developing strong African brands
The biggest opportunity for African business is to build strong brands that entice consumer loyalty and trust with local knowledge and aspirations.
African companies need to distinguish themselves from their global counterparts in order to attract and retain the loyalty, and business, of consumers, says business leader at The African CEO Forum (ACEOF).
Speaking at a panel discussion titled ‘Developing strong African brands’, Midcom Founder and Vice-Chairman Anand Kapoor highlighted the necessity for companies to understand brand strategy and apply it, if they want to get to the top of their industry when competing against global competitors.
Mr. Kapoor is the founder and head of Midcom Group, a major international conglomerate with annual turnover exceeding $1.5 billion and operations across 14 African countries in sectors as diverse as telecommunications, commodities, commercial and residential real estate, dairy products, Forex and education.
Joining Mr. Kapoor in the panel discussion to highlight the importance of strong African brands, was Edouard Malbois, CEO and Founder, Enivrance; Jean-Sébastien Decaux
CEO Southern Europe, Africa, Belgium, Luxembourg and Israel, JC Decaux; Henok Teferra, CEO, Asky; and Pierre-André Terisse, CEO Africa, Danone.
“Branding is used to distinguish yourself from the competition,” said Mr. Kapoor. “It is a matter or building loyalty and trust with your consumer, a promise, a personality of what you represent. What I can tell by my long experience in Africa is that brands that are aspirational and understand their consumers do well.”
Mr. Kapoor added that Benchmarking for African brands is also very important, especially in today’s mobile economies where people, word and brands all travel.
“It is unthinkable for a local brand to focus on one country and not expect an international brand to sooner or later enter that market. Hence it is important to benchmark against the world standards.”
One of the biggest advantages African companies have over their international competitors is knowledge of the continent and its many different cultures.
“Many internationals don’t understand Africa, they think it’s one culture and the same throughout without realizing how vast and different it really is. I mentioned aspirational brands, but this takes on a different meaning for different regions and cultures. What is aspirational in Nigeria, may not be aspirational in Uganda. Uganda is a very family oriented society and one of the big aspirations is a good family life. Whereas in Nigeria, aspirational values may be different. Within Nigeria, different regions may have different aspirations.”
“The point is that a number of the international brands sometimes fail to grasp is the diversity of this continent. Africa is a continent of a billion people, from over 50 countries speaking a hundreds of languages and dialects. By looking at the brands that have done well on this continent, it is quite clear.”
Kapoor points to international beverage companies who have grasped this concept. Heineken and Guinness both customize their campaigns according to the region. Similarly, MTN, one of the biggest African brands, runs highly customized campaigns of a very high standard across Africa.
About Anand Kapoor
Anand Kapoor is the founder and head of Midcom Group, a major international conglomerate with an annual turnover exceeding $1.5 billion.
At 42, Kapoor has steered Midcom Group on a path to success through a myriad of business activities across the Middle East and Africa. In the process he has embraced and revolutionized industries as diverse as telecommunications, commodities, commercial and residential real estate, dairy products, Forex and education.
Headquartered in Dubai, Kapoor leads Midcom in its business operations around the globe. From its global telecoms distribution network to its international agriculture and dairy business, consumer electronics and education, under Kapoor’s leadership and guidance Midcom has grown into an impressive organization, employing thousands, while helping to build prosperous communities through education, economic investment and leadership.