« First X made in Africa » is a bad branding strategy

A couple of months ago, my smartphone (HTC One X) said good bye to me, without any warning and left me sad, alone and orphan. After mourning, I decided to purchase another smartphone which I believe will be more faithful to me and won’t abandon me after just 6 months of relationship. Well, what I did is pretty simple. I kept hearing about Mororola’s Moto G as the best budget phone of the moment. So I googled it, saw the price, saw the specs, read all the positive feedbacks from users, got myself convinced, and finally purchased it. Now, I’m enjoying my new Moto G. Au calme.

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I never asked myself at any moment, if Motorola was the first company to design a smartphone, or a budget phone, or any X stuff in the US. I never asked myself if the Moto G was the first smartphone designed in Salt Lake City or in Timbuktu. No. I was just looking for a great phone that my budget would allow me to purchase. And that’s it. So, I can’t stop wondering why so many tech entrepreneurs and startups CEO define all their branding and marketing strategy around « First X made in Africa ». And here is why I believe this is a wrong way to proceed.

  1. Customers don’t care if your product is the first one designed (or made) in Africa. All they are looking at is quality and price. Actually, this basically works to every kind of good or service you have to pay for. « 
  2. « First X made in Africa » can help you gain fans, but not clients and customers, even if some (very few of them though) will buy your product as a tribute of the « Africa » label. And as an entrepreneur, what you are looking for is not fans, but clients and customers, and money. Your fans can become customers only if your product is good and is worth its price
  3. « First X made in Africa » is just the kind of good superhero story that media, pundits, bloggers and events organizers want to hear. So, what do you think will happen when they’ll get tired of your story or will have another brand new « First X made in Africa » to write and talk about?
  4. « First X made in Africa » push you not to focus on innovation and profitability. Instead, many of these products are just copied from elsewhere with almost zero added value but the « Africa » label. At the end of the day, we are just reinventing the wheel and renaming it. For what purpose?
  5. « First X made in Africa » lead people to think that it is always uncommon when something innovative or new is designed or imagined in Africa. And that is wrong, because there is a lot of innovation and great things going on on the Continent.

Finally, I would say that I really appreciate all this innovation and entrepreneurship effort which is gaining ground in Africa. But let us focus on real innovation, quality and costs instead of struggling to make a good story for newspapers. And remember, Apple, Samsung, HTC, and LG were not the first on the smartphones industry. But today, they are leading the market. And that is only what matters.

KA.

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