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Retail Census Studies: a key to business success in Africa | Frontline Research Group

By Tai Chishakwe - Jun 12, 2019
Retail Census Studies: a key to business success in Africa | Frontline Research Group

Sometimes overlooked, Retail Census Studies are an essential tool for success if your company is planning to take its products and services, to market, on the African continent. Retail Census studies enable companies to build an accurate picture of the market place and the opportunity within the market environment.

And where the accuracy of information is critical, companies turn to leading market research company, the Frontline Research Group and its Strategic Projects division.

With their vast experience on the African continent, Frontline assists clients in formulating their retail census studies, as well as carrying out the project in the field.

Business Linkmagazine (BL) sought to find out more about this service from Vaughan Deacon, Client Relations Manager at Frontline (VD). Here is what we found out.

BL: What are Retail Census Studies, as one of the services offered by the Frontline Research Group?

VD: The retail census sets out to quantify the retail outlet universe, within a specific geographic area, and often underpins a variety of strategic requirements, for a company planning to enter a new market, or improve on its current market strategy.

BL: How important are Retail Census Studies for businesses venturing into Africa?

VD: The retail census provides an accurate view of the market, at the specific time of the read, and provides key insight into the retail landscape within the territory under review. This is key to understand within the African context, as the markets may vary largely from one country to the next, and even within certain countries.

Some of the objectives and features of a retail census include:

  • The total universe of outlets – market sizing,
  • A profile is created of every outlet – this enables you to target specific channels, and sub-trade channels,
  • Opportunities can be identified – where are the gaps in the market,
  • Results can be used to optimise distribution and territory management, and
  • Accurate statistical measures can be drawn for sampling purposes.

BL: Why must a company outsource its Retail Census Studies?

VD: Some companies try doing the retail census as an in-house operation, mainly using their own reps and/or distribution network. The downside of this is that these staff members have their own key job functions to perform and are not proficient in the specialised techniques that Frontline employs to read and report on the market, in an accurate and meaningful way.

Frontline has also conducted these studies in 18 African markets, at various levels, so we understand the nuances and challenges that need to be addressed, prior to going to field.

BL: What differentiates Frontline from other companies offering this service?

VD: Frontline’s experience across sub-Saharan Africa is key in this aspect. Frontline has conducted projects in 26 African states and has done retail census projects in 18 of these.

These census projects give an accurate view of the market, with each outlets GPS coordinates captured.

We do not simply read a sample of the market, and then extrapolate this data, to provide a market size (although we do offer this service if required). The Frontline retail census provides our clients with detailed access to each and every outlet, within the project scope, so that, aside from the high-level market sizing, the client is able to route their vehicles directly to each outlet they wish to activate or deliver to.

Frontline also works hand in hand with the client, in order to capture key data on each of the outlets, in order to paint a picture, specific to that client’s view of the market.

BL: Typically, how do you work with the client on the Retail Census Studies?

VD: Frontline consults with the client to determine the specific geography, channels, as well as specific measures to be collected, in the market. These items would tie in with the client’s specific strategic objects for the project, and what it is they want to use the data for.

This would vary from a client wanting to enter into a new market where they are currently not present, to a client who is already mature within the market, and looking for a way to optimise their current situation, and potentially grow.

BL: Cost is probably a factor in companies considering to outsource Retail Census Studies. How does Frontline ensure the companies get value for money?

VD: To conduct a retail census can be a costly exercise, so the client needs to consider the strategy around running this type of project, and weighing this up against the potential gains within the market.

The costs vary from country to country, as can be expected, however, the largest contributing factor to these studies, is the fieldwork component. With this in mind, the client needs to carefully consider the geographical scope of the project, as the fees are calculated based on the time in the field, to cover the geography, and not as a cost per outlet.

Another key consideration for the client is how are they going to use the data collected? It is no good them wanting to have a census of a full country, but only have the capacity to work in one or two cities.

What is key to consider, from a client perspective, is what data is critical to the planned outcomes, versus what data would be nice to have.

Frontline works with our clients to achieve these objectives, within the allocated budgets, however, these budgets need to be realistic.

To find out more or how Frontline Research Group can assist you with your Retail Census Studies, call +27 (0)86 999 0407, email info@frontlineafrica.com or visit them online at frontlineafrica.com. Alternatively, visit Clarendon Court, 9 Lutman Street, Richmond Hill, Port Elizabeth, 6001.

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