Analyst firms find that the Arab world can be a very effective route into Africa more broadly — if analysts can respond to the different customer demand across those countries.
Initially, of course, the money has been in more market research work. However, Lighthouse’s feel is that there’s an opportunity for analysts to also ramp up syndicated research and do more end-user studies as well. Very little content being done on either Africa or the Arab world. We see many of the dynamics in Asia’s analyst market — lack of competition, high growth markets, and IT vendors looking intently at these markets to help with growth — also at work in Africa and the Middle East.
A good example of that is Springboard Research, a Singapore-headquartered firm that’s growing like Topsy (as Twain would say). They have have done a number of projects across the Middle East and Africa over the last 15 months and, as with other firms, they find that the market opportunities are booming. In fact, it’s a bit like shooting fish in a barrel: many clients have mentioned that they have little choice in the market and are looking for alternatives.
What’s interesting is that Springboard is investing aggressively there. It is in the process of setting up another offshore research centre, this time in Morocco, to better cover the region. It is also staffing analyst offices in Dubai and South Africa. In the mean-time, the big brand firms do not see the ‘MEA’ market as a priority.