Unlocking Brand Loyalty in Africa: The Power of Customer Attention Planning

Hello there, entrepreneurs and prospective investors for Africa! Let’s talk about brand disloyalty, which is fast becoming the standard. Yes, it is increasing globally, and what’s more? Africa is no different! With 45% of customers eager to swap brands at the drop of a hat, Africa took second place in brand disloyalty in 2019. Ouch!

Now that you’re in the unpredictable world of African business, you’re probably scratching your head and wondering, “How on earth do I invest in customer brand loyalty when everyone’s just so disloyal?” Well, you’re not alone, my friend. I have a story about how many companies have attempted and failed to increase brand loyalty in Africa.

Let’s take a little detour to Nigeria, where a streaming service called iROKOtv thought they had it all figured out. But boy, were they wrong! They needed to adapt to changing consumer preferences and the fierce competition from global players like Netflix. As a result, they saw a decline in subscribers and revenue and even had to make some layoffs.

Here’s the kicker: it’s no surprise that businesses need help to keep customers loyal. Some blame it on falling purchasing power, rising inflation rates, exchange rate volatility, and high unemployment rates (an average of 9.66%, in case you’re wondering). But here’s the twist: economic factors aren’t the only culprits behind Africa’s increasingly disloyal customers. Nope, there’s something else brewing beneath the surface.

Enter the star of the show: customer attention management! Many businesses need to pay more attention to the power of attention planning in curbing brand disloyalty. It’s not just about telling a fancy brand story or plastering your ads everywhere. Oh no, my friend, it’s way more than that. We define customer attention management as a firm’s strategic approach to capture and retain customers’ attention throughout the journey. It’s not a silver bullet; making the wrong attention-planning decisions can land you in trouble.

Tell you a little tale about a real estate brand in Nigeria. They thought they had it done by displaying ads on giant screens at the Lekki Toll gate in Lagos. They figured that with all those cars passing through, they’d get the attention they craved. Well, let’s say the results were as disappointing as a rainy day at the beach. Only a fraction of the people looked up; an even smaller number paid attention and called for more info. Not all marketing campaigns are created equal; assuming so is a recipe for wasted investments.

But here’s another curveball: attention planning is more than just analysing the pre-purchase or purchase phases. Oh no, you’ve got to cover the whole spectrum! We’re talking pre-purchase, purchase, post-purchase, and even loyalty maintenance. Nakumatt, a retail giant in Kenya, learned this the hard way. They focused too much on attention planning before purchase, neglecting crucial aspects like customer service and stock management. It’s like trying to run a marathon with one shoe. Not a good look, my friend!

So, how can African businesses use attention planning to save the day and grow brand loyalty? Buckle up because here are some steps to get you started:

Step 1: Clarify your strategic objective. What do you want your attention strategy to achieve? Reduce churn rates? Increase sales? Boost customer satisfaction and referrals? Get clear on your goals, and you’ll know which platforms, channels, and metrics to focus on. Take notes from Flutterwave, a Nigerian fintech that nailed customer attention planning by providing a seamless payment experience.

Step 2: Plan for the entire customer journey. Stay caught up in more than one phase of the customer journey. Pay attention (pun intended) to every stage! Make a lasting first impression during the pre-purchase phase, deliver a smooth and positive buying experience, provide ongoing support and complaint management post-purchase, and go above and beyond to foster loyalty. Take a page out of those malls selling Johnny Walker brands in Nigeria—they’ve got custom stands with TV screens highlighting the brand’s strengths. It’s all about keeping the attention flowing!

Step 3: Understand the consumer context. Context is king. It determines how much attention your customers will give your brand. Are they more interested in service offerings or product offerings? Does pricing play a role in capturing their attention? Is the timing right for your ads to make an impact? Dive deep into the minds of your consumers and tailor your attention planning accordingly. Our in-depth interviews show that Nigerian consumers spend 1.6 times more time paying attention to service offerings than product offerings at purchase. Similarly, B2B purchasers are 2.09 times more attentive to adverts than B2C purchasers in the country. Another interesting finding was that product adverts that met the customer’s pricing expectations attracted a lot more attention (a minimum of three hours) than others that evaded pricing expectations (time spent was a maximum of 12 minutes). On the other hand, service adverts that backed brand promises with pleasant purchase experiences attracted more attention than those that did not. The cultural context is equally essential for attention planning. Trust me; it’s a game-changer.

Step 4: Use the right success metrics. It’s time to measure what matters. Choose the right metrics to evaluate your attention-planning performance. There are plenty of tools out there, but what’s important is finding what works for your business. A nifty formula is the Customer Attention Planning Index (CAPI). Here is a simple customer attention index generated to guide you.

Customer Attention Planning Index (CAPI) = (CS x CE x CM x PZ x FC x ST x SQ x CMG x LP x CA)^(1/10)


CS = Customer Segmentation

CE = Customer Experience

CM = Communication

PZ = Personalization

FC = Feedback Collection

ST = Staff Training

SQ = Service Quality

CMG = Complaint Management

LP = Loyalty Programs

CA = Customer Aspiration management

To derive each of the variables in the CAPI formula, you can assign a score based on the quality of the result obtained, divide it by the total population, and multiply the result by 100 to get its percentage. For example, to calculate customer experience, you can assign a score based on customers’ satisfaction rate, divide it by the total number of customers, and multiply the result by 100. The resulting percentage can then be used as the value for the CE variable in the CAPI formula.

The formula takes the geometric mean of the scores for each variable, which is a way to measure the average level of performance across the different components. The result is between 0 and 100, indicating the overall customer attention planning performance. A score above 50 could represent moderate performance, while a score above 70 would represent outstanding performance. Crunch those numbers, take the geometric mean, and voila! You’ll have a score that tells you how well you’re doing. Aim high!

Step 5: Train your staff on building trust. Trust is the secret sauce to capturing attention. Equip your team with empathy, responsiveness, and ethical awareness. Customers pay more attention to platforms they trust, which also applies to B2B transactions. So, invest in trust-building skills and watch the magic happen.

Growing brand loyalty in Africa can feel like taming a wild lion, but you can make it happen with strategic customer attention management. Embrace the power of attention planning because when it comes to keeping your customers loyal, you’ve got to give it all you’ve got. Are you ready to grab the spotlight? Get out, capture those wandering eyes, and turn disloyalty into undying devotion. You’ve got this!


Uchenna Uzo, Professor of Marketing and Academic Director of the Africa Retail Academy

Emmanuel Adediran, Business Unit Director, MediaReach OMD

Oluwatomilola Mustapha, Sales and Marketing Strategist, Mcvkodev Tech Lab

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One Comment

  • Very identifiable position that i as a business owner encounter and can related with.
    Many thanks for the article, very educative and practical


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Uchenna Uzo, Emmanuel Adediran and Oluwatomilola Mustapha

Uchenna Uzo, Emmanuel Adediran and Oluwatomilola Mustapha

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Get To Know Uchenna Uzo

Uchenna Uzo

Dr Uchenna Uzo joined LBS in February 2002. He received his B.Sc and M.Sc in Sociology from the University of Lagos, and his Masters of Research in Management as well as Ph.D. in Management from the IESE Business School, Barcelona.

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