In 2021 at an innovation summit in Cape Town, South Africa, several startups were offered the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a group of international investors.
After the presentation, he opened the floor for questions. A female investor representing a multi-national group excitedly exclaimed, “Where do you get all this data? We have been looking for data on Botswana which has been an impossible feat.”
He explained that it was difficult to find market data to validate their business case, so they decided to collect it using their own internal tools.
There was collective excitement in the room as many agreed that this was not only an amazing concept but one that was timely and much needed. Investors were finding it hard to get accurate, on-the-ground information about the Botswana market to set up their businesses. The conclusion was that this concept should exist in every African country.
For international companies, information is the raw material necessary for investment. Businesses use this information to make informed decisions for growth and expansion. Market research is the bridge where international investors meet local opportunities.
This makes market research in Botswana an obvious need for startups and investment opportunities. Sadly, Botswana still has her many challenges. Here are three of the most prevalent ones.
1. Paper Surveys – Financially and mentally strenuous
Beyond providing quantitative data, market research provides an emotional understanding of the culture and business climate. This connects the business to its ideal customer.
Most research is still conducted with paper surveys. Not only are people resistant to this (not providing honest feedback), but paper surveys are expensive, labour intensive and time-consuming,
People are more likely to respond and engage with online surveys as they enable more freedom of expression. Respondents are more comfortable on their mobile devices, in environments that they are familiar with. Free from the fear of being judged.
2. The focus is on big cities and excludes people in peri-urban and rural areas
Paper surveys are still a common method of data collection. Consequently, these have to be limited to big cities as going to rural areas adds to expenses. Most data collection is then obtained in dense areas such as cities and urban areas, excluding many people in peri-urban and rural areas.
Take for instance in Botswana, due to the high cost of in-city accommodation, people are now moving from the cities to smaller towns and villages on the outskirts of cities, increasing the population in these growing areas. By limiting research to cities companies deprive themselves of large sets of data and consumer insights in prei-urban and rural areas.WhatsApp is a digital inclusive platform that is easily available to users in every area across the country, is available on social data bundles making it affordable even to the minority and is user friendly, providing a more accurate reflection of the local market.
3. Market research companies are not localised enough in Botswana
A lot of research in Botswana, and the rest of Africa, is conducted through proxies for international companies and investors.
Qualitative local research matters. Though quantitative and statistical data help, they only tell a part of the story. They also do not reflect the wide array of expressions and circumstances behind the data – which ironically is what is needed for the customer journey and conversion from an interested prospect to a loyal customer.
Companies with the most accurate information remain a head above the competition. Accurate information carries a comprehensive local expression of the audience.
Rather than harvesting information from websites, businesses that get firsthand data directly from the target audience have the upper edge with accuracy, and Meeticks Surveys enables that through our chatbot.
Understanding the nuances and intricacies of markets requires delicacy and sensitivity to people and their cultures, and only local people can fit that role. It is more than language and could be the difference between customers thinking you are great, or disrespectful.
Botswana’s Market Research Solution
That day at the innovation summit in Cape Town, we initially went in to pitch one business solution but came out with the realisation that this additional tool that we had created for our own use was in fact, a business on its own, greatly beneficial for market research in Botswana, and the continent at large.
Meeticks Surveys is now available to businesses of all sizes, research institutions, and the innovation ecosystem at large.
Recently, in Q2 of 2022, Meeticks Africa went on to win 2nd place at the EY Africa Innovation Business Pitch, further validating the market need for the solution.
Our offering is currently available for market research in Botswana and South Africa, with more countries coming on board in the near future.