Robert Hinson writes: 12 marketing skill gaps employers want universities to address in Africa

Africa is blessed with abundant natural and human resources but still carries the burden of underdevelopment, and poor management of institutional resources. The economic and social challenges that characterize the continent could be argued to be partly because of the systemic weaknesses and poor performance of the marketing function across public, private, and non-profit institutions.

To improve marketing training in Africa, Brand South Africa and the University of South Africa are hosting their annual African Marketing Academic Colloquium from 17th to 18th August 2021. The Colloquium targets marketing academics in Africa to work together towards the development and advancement of marketing education and to close marketing skill gaps. The theme for the colloquium is “Reimagining marketing education in the 4th industrial revolution era’’.

Presenting at the Colloquium, Professor Robert E. Hinson spoke on the topic Marketing to Emerging Markets In Africa – Implications For The Marketing Curriculum. In that presentation, he argued that marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers, but argued as well as that we cannot work with old marketing anymore because are in a new marketing age.

In new marketing, marketers need to evolve from being mundane order takers to becoming propellers of organizational growth. He noted that in the not-too-distant past, Coca Cola had scrapped their CMO role and appointed a Chief Growth Officer instead. Coca Cola has since reinstated the CMO role. New marketing focusses on driving business growth and driving superior customer experiences and all excellent marketing should be aimed at achieving these two overarching goals.

Professor Hinson then argued that is his travels across several African countries and interfacing with several industries, there were top 12 anecdotal peeves of employers in respect of the marketing graduates we are producing in Africa today. He listed these as:

  1. Lack of an entrepreneurial/intrapreneurial mindset
  2. Poor to Average Salespeople
  3. Poor to Average Digital Marketing Skills
  4. Poor Appreciation of Contextual Marketing Issues (so for instance, marketers in destination marketing are also clueless about hospitality and tourism context issues)
  5. Poor to Average Writing Skills
  6. Poor to Average Speaking Skills
  7. Poor to average understanding of marketers are growth officers
  8. Poor to Average Public Sector Marketing Skills
  9. Poor to Average Green and Sustainability Marketing Skills, especially as they relate to meeting the SDGs
  10. Poor to Average Non-Profit Sector Marketing Skills
  11. Poor Understanding of the Marketing-Customer Experience Interface
  12. Poor to Average International Marketing/Global Business Skills especially in the light of the AfCFTA

Professor Hinson opined that in revising marketing curricular on the continent, marketing faculty should strive to address these marketing gaps in innovative ways so that they could assist in creating students who are market ready and deliver real value in all the institutions they find themselves employed in.


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