Despite Côte d’Ivoire still being dominated by a traditional trade retail base, the Nielsen Shopper World Conference held in the capital Abidjan, has found that the country’s modern trade arena has seen the greatest evolution in the last two years and therefore holds the most potential for growth.
This has been spurred on by the expansion of brands such as Carrefour and Bonprix and a growing consumer appetite for more organised retail outlets, which offer a broader assortment of ranges as well as competitive pricing and enhanced promotional activities. This in comparison to small independent stores that utilise bargaining opportunities, as a form of promotional activity.
Speaking at the event, Nielsen Francophone Africa lead Yannick Nkembe commented: “Traditional trade is still very strong in the minds of shoppers in Côte d’Ivoire, who value the bargaining option they have in open markets and the availability of all the products they want in one place. However, the current development of modern trade and a growing middle class is creating a shift towards more formalised shopping experiences.
“In addition, the activities supermarkets put in to align their offers with those found in open markets, e.g. fresh products and convenience, is boosting the appeal of modern trade outlets. It’s therefore clear that to win, good execution is needed independent of store types.”
A promising economy
Looking at the bigger picture, Côte d’Ivoire’s rapidly developing retail sector is no surprise, considering its ongoing strong performance in Nielsen’s Africa Prospects Indicator (API) where it has retained consecutive top positions ahead of some of its larger peers. The conference also included a presentation on shopper trends in Côte d’Ivoire which found that this is due to its outstanding improvements in terms of ease of doing business. It has also recorded strong GDP growth, several new IPOs, a doubling of the banking sector, low inflation, a stable currency and solid infrastructure.
These drivers now underpin a healthy retail sector that is seeing a rise in modern trade offerings. At present, supermarkets account for only a small percentage of urban store numbers, but there is significant growth potential within this channel given that 35% of consumers shop in supermarkets for weekly and monthly pantry restocking. This provides excellent opportunities for these outlets to offer a wide range of products at competitive prices, supported by sophisticated promotional activity.
Another reason for the growth of the supermarket format that the shopper trends survey found is that supermarket shoppers are highly price aware. This is borne out by the fact that 42% know the price of most items and always notice when the price changes and 37% said they don’t know all the prices but generally notice when the price changes. Ivorians are therefore the perfect audience for visible, clearly labelled prices on products, shelves and websites which are synonymous with the modern trade environment.
Shoppers are also store loyal, given that 46% stated that they seldom change stores but actively look for promotions at the stores they’re in. This bodes well for retailers who can leverage off existing shopper loyalty and offer enhanced promotions to drive incremental sales.
Despite the uptake in modern trade; the reality is that independent traditional trade outlets like kiosks, open markets and convenience stores still dominate, with high penetration and frequent shopping trips. Currently the convenience and open market stores, account for two thirds of consumer packaged goods sales and are shopped multiple times per week.
Against this backdrop, the vital role that independent outlets continue to play in the day-to-day lives of Ivorian shoppers is clear and especially so, considering that 23% of respondents said they make a shopping trip for everyday needs and 21% for essential/emergency items.
Another interesting finding of the survey is that 82% of urban supermarket shoppers say they “enjoy doing the grocery shopping”. To capitalise on this mindset, retailers should look to optimising the shopping experience via organised store layouts, innovative merchandising and stand-out promotional displays. In addition, shopper engagement is key, complemented by personalised customer service.
Other insights into Ivorian consumers’ attitude to shopping, include the fact that they carefully consider their choices prior to purchase, with 88% saying they usually plan what to buy before they shop for groceries and 77% stating they work according to a strict budget. Despite this, 63% admit to buying additional items which shows they’re open to unplanned or impulse purchases.
Given the growing popularity of the modern trade format and retailers wanting to grow their share of spend from existing and new customers, Nkembe comments: “Focused promotions, linked with in-store advice and assistance are logical steps to help bring brands to life and thereby increase shopper engagement”.