Prioritizing market research for new and small businesses in Africa

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Sun, 15 Jan 2017 Source: Salifu, Steve Kubate

The African market today is presenting more opportunities to entrepreneurs than ever before. Africa is undoubtedly the new frontier for growth offering opportunities for brands expansion whether it is a startup or a large cooperation. More and more people are seeking to create opportunities for their ideas in various industries. While many entrepreneurs are able to strike gold with their ideas, many more are finding it difficult to launch sustainable businesses in Ghana.

Every entrepreneur that has an idea that they want to turn into a business is passionate about it. Their personal connection with the idea prevents them from being objective about the business idea and its feasibility. Many entrepreneurs in Africa will only share the idea with those close to them, who are in many cases biased in their opinions.

If you have a business idea or are already running a small business, it is important to seek out relevant and useful information from the market. This gives you a realistic view of the market and the opportunities therein. This can only be obtained through market research.

Why you should make market research a priority

Many small business owners in Africa and those planning to break into the market know the importance of research in the launch of a product or service. However, many don’t invest time, energy or money in obtaining information about their industry. Many will push it down their list of priorities and put it off for so long that it is eventually forgotten.

This is a great mistake. The right information can help you to better understand your target audience and therefore improve your services, products and approach to marketing. There are clearly so many good reasons why investing in marketing research is so fundamental to the growth of small businesses or entities seeking to make inroads into the African market. Some of the reasons include:

1. You can spot market trends

It’s important to understand that through market research you can appreciate trends in your niche. This will obviously help you determine what is most relevant for the market now and in the future. It will also help you keep up with the changing needs of your customers. IBM now LENOVO for instance lost a great segment of its market in the early 90s when it choose to ignore the rising need for personal computers. Such huge business blunders should not be repeated by entities that seek to expand their share of the already saturated markets.

2. Discover new opportunities

With a little more information about the market, you may discover even more opportunities than you previously thought available to you. Research can show you potentially new demographical groups to target or new challenges to offer solutions for. It can provide you with a new approach to marketing what you have to offer.

3. Gain a better understanding of your competition

Your business does not exist in a vacuum. If you want to make a dent in the market, you need to know your competition and what they have to offer. Understanding what you are up against will help you determine the best approach to differentiating yourself and therefore beat the competition.

4. Make more informed choices

Many entrepreneurs rely on their ‘gut instinct’ to make decisions. However, this isn’t effective or even advisable when it comes to high-stakes decisions that will have long term effects on your business or brand. Research provides you with the information you need to make decisions that will help with the growth and development of your business.

Research is vital as part of risk management when setting up or running a small business. Ignoring this information may be catastrophic for your business.

The writer Steve Kubate Salifu is a Brands Development Specialist with B Branding Solutions, a Branding and Digital Marketing Agency.

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Columnist: Salifu, Steve Kubate