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Feyi Olubodun’s The Villager explores why global and local brands fail to connect with African consumers

When Feyi Olubodun, CEO of Insight Publicis Nigeria, one of West Africa’s leading creative agencies, witnessed one too many cases of brands failing in the African marketplace he began to ask himself questions:

* Why did brands, both global and local, so often fail to connect with the African consumer?

* What was it about the African market that brand owners were not seeing?

He began to reflect on his own marketing experiences and out of this emerged the framework for The Villager.

In Feyi’s view, the African consumer begins his life’s journey by moving from the village, his rural dwelling, to the city, carrying with him not only his own dreams but also the dreams of his community. He is a highly aspirational consumer, motivated to succeed, and he becomes the economic portal for the rest of his community back home. But although he may be exposed to global influences and technology, his essential identity remains largely intact. This is why Feyi calls the African consumer a Villager. The Village is no longer a physical space; it is a psychological construct that defines him and the filter through which he engages with and consumes brands.

In developing his construct, Feyi posits that if you wish to engage successfully in a market you may not understand, you must have the right ‘lenses’ to view a people. He believes the secret lies in applying these lenses at the confluence of commerce, culture and consumer. Data is not enough to understand the vagaries of a particular market. Drawing on his wide experience and wealth of astute observations, he provides a highly readable and indispensable guide to the mindset of the African consumer today, yet it is true to say that his insights apply, albeit in a more nuanced way, to consumer behaviour across the globe.

Feyi Olubodun spent four years at medical school before changing to another course of study. He transferred his interest in humans from the anatomical to the psychological and graduated with a degree in psychology.

Feyi began to follow the questions in his life – questions about humans, brands, businesses and African institutions. These questions led him to the path of working as a Data Analyst and Marketer Researcher, at TNS-RMS for several years.

The same questions led him to Insight Publicis, where he was Strategy Director for some years before being promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Along the way Feyi got his Global Executive MBA from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business, and in 2016 he was appointed Managing Director/CEO of Insight Publicis Nigeria. Feyi is still following his questions, reflected in his daily work with clients who want to win in the African market, and in working to build an African creative agency for the future.

There has never been a better time to build an understanding that – at heart – we are all still Villagers, wherever it is that we now call home. When you come to apply the wise words in this book directly to your brand-building approach, you will discover a unique insight into global audiences, and not just African ones. The author suggests that this book is all about the character of the African consumer. I’d beg to disagree. This book is about very much more than that.– – Peter Stephenson-Wright, Affiliate Professor, Director of Executive Education, ESCP Europe Business School

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