Africa Set for the Experience Economy

Industrial revolutions have influenced continents differently.  The industrial revolution of the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900 transitioned Europe and the United States to new ways of manufacturing. African was largely left behind. During the period, Africa was the main source of free labour. To date, Africa remains the least developed and poorest of the continents. Fortunately though, over the two decades, Africa has been rising albeit slowly. As the world currently goes through the third and fourth industrial revolutions, African is trying to close the gap. In particular, Africa is adapting to the latest technological advancements. Further, there is awareness of the experience economy in most parts of Africa. The ability of experience to be a key point of differentiation is indisputable.

The experience economy is about businesses connecting fully with customers, creating memorable experiences and winning their loyalty. The predecessors of the experience economy were the agrarian, industrial, and service economy. Though African continues to explore missed opportunities in the earlier phases, the focus by many businesses today is on the overall experience. Many forward-looking businesses across industries both small and large are focusing more and more on their customers’ needs. Most businesses are developing strategies to help them hold on to their customers for life. The travel and tourism sector, the financial services and telecommunications providers in Africa remain at the centre of the experience economy. Africa seems set for the experience economy more than it was for the service economy.

How has the experience economy influenced your business decisions?  The key feature of the experience economy is going beyond products and services and committing to meet the customers’ needs. This requires a good understanding of the customers’ needs. Africa’s consumer market is growing and the consumers are becoming more diverse. These consumers are growing in their exposure to international experience standards and awareness of consumer rights. The marketplace too is becoming more competitive. Smart companies hoping to survive in the experience economy must take rethink their customers’ end-to-end experience and take full charge of gaining and keeping customers.  Further, the process of winning customer loyalty is one that smart businesses in Africa must give priority.

Today, Africa continues to fight hunger, poverty, political conflicts, corruption and bribery among other challenges. These present opportunities to create innovative solutions to support the fight. For these solutions to be effective, they must target specific consumers and seek to ease their pain. Appreciating that we are in the experience economy means a more in-depth understanding of the customers and or consumers of our solutions. In addition, the high failure rate of businesses should concern everyone currently running a business or hoping to start one.  An intensified focus on customers and their needs means that business failures resulting from a lack of customers are mitigated. Appreciating that we are in the experience economy should make all businesses in Africa intentional about their customers’ end-to-end experience. It is time for Africa to win in the experience economy! It is time for all businesses in Africa to heighten their focus on their customers’ experiences! The experience economy has the potential to transform Africa!

Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy

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