Advertising in Zambia—Who is Targeted?


By Wesley Ngwenya

Over the last decade or so competition among companies, in Zambia, has reached unprecedented heights. From electronic billboards on major roads to television adverts on Zambia’s TV stations. As many new businesses come on the market advertising budgets have equally grown. However, the message in the adverts is often too confusing and the targeted audience is often unclear. In this article, I will address the messages from adverts, how advertisers need to breakdown the demographics before they embark of their advertising campaigns and the effective methods to advertise.

Mixed and Missed Messages in Advertising

As an active consumer of many Zambian products and services, I often pay attention to the various adverts on the market. Advertising agencies or marketing departments of many companies are not doing a good job in sending the right messages to the consumers. Billboards are a great way to reach consumers who spend a great deal of time on the road. Newspapers are obviously for consumers who can read and write and television is for those who have access to electricity.

The above factors need to be taken into consideration when deciding what message to send to the consumers. Oftentimes, advertisers send mixed messages to their consumers who interpret them differently and as a result miss the intended results. There is no need for a billboard to be filled with a lot of information like a newspaper advert. The Finance Bank billboards, here in Zambia, are terrible. They confuse the customer on what exactly they want to communicate. Is it easy banking by “banking at your fingertips?” or is it opening of a new branch by “the lion was spotted somewhere? Stanbic has also this cluttered advert on its billboards with so much writing. The bank’s “Let’s dare to care” billboards are good for print not outdoor advertising. How do they expect you to read so much information if you are driving 60 kilometers an hour?

Breaking Down Demographics in Advertising

Many advertisers in Zambia do not seem to have any target audience in mind. Companies could save a lot of money on their advertising budgets if they narrowed down their target markets. Companies need to identify specific target markets and break down the demographics of those markets. The demographics could be broken down by age, income, gender, lifestyle, education, geography, and even culture. Once these factors are broken down it is easy for the company to tailor advertising to best suit that target market.

Breaking down demographics is essential in advertising because it avoids companies to waste time on reaching untargeted audiences. This cuts down on advertising costs. Most importantly, the results for the company could be impressive.

Choosing your Advertising Medium

Choosing an advertising medium is very important for a company. The choice of medium should take into consideration its effectiveness, the target market, and the cost. Once these factors are taken into consideration then the company can identify that medium and design the messages to communicate, how to do it, and how long.

Many companies in Zambia seem to spend their advertising budgets on unnecessary mediums. There is no need to spend money on television advertising if your targeted audiences are people who don’t spend their time watching TV. If a company embarks on one type of advertising campaign and that proves to be effective then it needs to capitalize on that.

There are questions of ethics that companies need to take into consideration before advertising. For instance, when advertising alcohol products and tobacco, they need to exercise extra caution and select mediums that will unlikely be viewed by children. Zambian companies seem to advertise all kinds of products to children. Little caution is taken which has left children to be consumers of products not intended for them.

Evaluating your Advertising Campaign

Companies need to evaluate how successful or unsuccessful their advertising campaign has been. Keys to success have to be clearly tabulated. Once those goals are achieved then they need to work on a methodology to maintain the success. If the goal was to launch a product, then the keys to success could include the accessibility of the product to the consumers and that the consumers are actually buying or using the product. If the goal was to generate sales through advertising a product, then the keys to success will be the revenue raised from that campaign.

Evaluating your advertising campaign is essential because it helps you determine how effective the method and medium you chose to carry out your campaign. In the next few weeks I will discuss each of these segments in detail. I will explore how to communicate effective messages to your consumers and as well as breaking down the demographics when marketing certain products.


  1. vote

    This goes to show that no research has been done by the companies, cos if they know their target market, the the next thing they need to know is the right media to use. If they dont understand atleat they must use the basic rules of ,marketing.

  2. vote

    ok i havent read the article but Zambian adverts are an apology of adverts. if i had to be the head of the advertising or marketing association, i wouldnt be approving certain advert. i was home a month ago and was so irritated by an advert which was done in english but sounded nyanja and where there is an R they will use L eg what is it that eats flom the glound and has wings….nkunku what is it tha Frys and has wings…….. nkunku buy bla bla bla chickens they are the best. talk less of the boom adverts d is boom no boom is d iye…….

  3. vote

    This is massage is also misplaced here. Good points for the classroom somewhere. Its meant for advertisers and companies. find their medium.

  4. vote

    Whenever I see and advert, whether in the print media, electronic, bill boards or on TV I ask myself a question. Do these companies have Marketing departments better still, do they have advertising departments that should either engage qualified advertising agencies? The answer to these questions is that “cheap is expensive” Look at the ads by Trade Kings (especially those done by Bikkilon and Diffikoti), they are pathetic. But the guys are busy milking the company. An advert should persuade a prospective buyer to at least think about the product or service in question. I personally can not say i have come across an advert in Zambia that made sense let alone persuaded me to buy it. I even think the role of the ZACCI and ZIM should be rechecked. Anyways our economy is a dumping site.

  5. vote

    #7..true…. he should have found a forum for marketers and advertisers… he must practice what he preaches

  6. vote

    Wow at least I am not the only Zambian that has noticed how these adverts are a share waste of space, time and meaningless. Zambia people generaly go for quantity rather than quality. Cheap is costly ka!

  7. vote

    I hate those bathing soap and washing powder and nyama soya adverts on TV. Its like you are watching play house or a nigerian movie. The adverts takes forever only to realise at the end that it was actually an advert…..mama!

  8. vote

    Nice write up! I am in the marketing,publishing and advertising industry and a lot of these Zambian companies really need to do there research. Branding should also be considered very carefully. Look at those boom adverts, they spend so much on them yet the product is looked by many as one you buy when you are broke. They need to be more creative, make it short,simple,preferbly funny and straight to the point at least the consumer will remember it well not where when you see Boom in a store you feel irritated all over again. If the brewers of Chibuku had clever spin doctors and creative sassy adverts from launch,that would be the drink of today! Thats how powerful branding is!
    Also talk about customer service, in zed its zero! All this goes hand in hand as you can advertise and rebrand…

  9. vote

    and do all the works but if there is no customer service customers will run away in doves and take their spending habits else where!
    Looking forward to reading your next related column.

  10. vote

    and do all the works but if there is no customer service customers will run away in doves and take their spending habits else where!
    Looking forward to reading your next related column.

  11. vote

    The Adverts done in Zambia are so pathetic, no professionalism only jokes all the time especially the ones for trade kings, the company just wastes money when it comes to advertising. Botswana, Zimbabwe and S.A have better adverts thatn us i think we should compy and learn from them.

  12. vote

    I don’t really understand what you think you have achieved by writing this article. There is no pictures of the so called bill boards that you have an issue with, therefore makes it impossible for me as a reader to relate to your article. Please bear in mind most of your readers if not all are abroad and have not been to Zed for a while.

  13. vote

    \:d/:)im a kenyan and would like to placed an advert in one of da zambian newspapers can you advise

  14. vote

    Can someone please refer me to the leading advertising agency in Zambia? I need to discuss a potential new advertising idea. Its currently in RSA, NAM, BW and Zim.

    Please e-mail to [email protected].

    Thank you.

  15. vote

    I am Zimbabwean marketer,have read your published article and it did a great job in tarnishing the image of your advertising companies in Zambia. What you wrote could be true but i think it is biased and it needs to be balanced for it to portray the true picture. It could be that some the adverts target consumers outside your segment so, to you this becomes pathetic but to the targeted audience the objectives have been achieved.

    For the boom advert i don’t know how they are in Zambia but in Zimbabwe am actually a user of boom because of their adverts.

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