A snapshot of African youth, a growing consumer segment

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A new survey finds young Africans aged 15-24 spend more than two hours a day on the internet and voice concern about jobs, rising costs and corruption.

Young Africans spend more than two hours a day on the internet and nearly one-fourth say social media plays a key role in their purchasing decisions.

Those are two takeaways from a new “African Youth,” a study (pdf) of consumer practices and values of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 by the French research institute Ipsos.

Ipsos surveyed more than 1,800 young people who are part of an increasingly important demographic in the social and economic affairs of the continent. Africa has the highest concentration of young people in the world with a population of about 220 million in this age group.

Those surveyed reside in seven countries – Ivory Coast, Senegal, Morocco, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Youth are optimistic despite concerns

Florence de Bigault, Director of Ipsos Africap, said brands must pay attention to young Africans as they have become an important consumer market.

Mall of AfricaAs a group, they “already play a leading role in the development of the African continent. They contribute to consumer spending, shopping mall visits, They aspire to education, employment, entertainment and full access to electricity and the internet,” de Bigault said.

According to the study, young Africans have high expectations for and optimism about the future, but also express concern about jobs, the rising cost of living and corruption.

Food, clothing are top expenses

Among the findings of the survey:

  • 81 percent of young Africans are optimistic about their personal future.
  • 63 percent are optimistic about the future of their country
  • 69 percent are concerned about unemployment, the top concern
  • 63 percent are concerned about the rising cost of living
  • 59 percent are concerned about corruption
  • 34 percent regularly go to shopping centers and markets
  • Their top spending items are food and beverages (43 percent), clothing (38 percent), and telecommunications and internet (33 percent).
  • They spend an average of 2:20 hours a day on the internet and social networks. Young Moroccans spend 3:15 hours per day.
  • 12 percent of those aged 20-24 work for themselves.
  • 22 percent of 15-24 year-olds are influenced by social networks in making purchase decisions
  • 49 percent in Ivory Coast and 30 percent in Senegal prefer French brands while fewer than 2 percent of young people prefer them in Nigeria and South Africa (the continent’s two largest economies).

Firm launches African research project

Ipsos is one of the largest research firms in the world. Operating in 87 countries with 16,000 employees, Ipsos has the capacity to conduct research in more than 100 countries.

The “African Youth” study is ongoing research, including quarterly updates of the youth survey as part of Ipsos’ Africap initiative.

In 2016, Ipsos launched Africap, a consultancy designed to help clients develop business in African markets. It is composed of more than 800 partners in 14 African nations – Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, and Ivory Coast.

Other ongoing Ipsos studies of the continent include:

  • A survey of food consumption trends in urban African homes;
  • A study of media usage in French-speaking Africa;
  • A survey to study emerging lifestyles and consumption trends.

De Bigault said African youth would continue to be an important part of Ipsos research, focusing on their consumer spending potential.

Another recent study found that youth in East African want a greater voice in their future. The youth-led study by The MasterCard Foundation Youth Think Tank looked at employment and entrepreneurship trends in East Africa. The initiative trained 15 youth from Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya to conduct research on young people seeking to enter the job market in their communities. The study includes information from more than 400 interviews with young people, officials and other East Africans. It found young people are eager to have a voice in policy decisions that affect them and are committed to improving their skills. Barriers to earning a living include limited access to information, technology and land as well as gender inequality.

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