The Biogeographical Foundations of African Marketing Systems

Paul T.M. Ingenbleek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The marketing literature is showing an increasing interest in Africa. This article addresses the contextual macro-level characteristics that such studies have in common, and traces the typical characteristics of African marketing systems back to their ultimately biogeographical foundations. These foundations include the north-south orientation of the main continental axis, the low presence of geological boundaries such as mountains and rivers, and Africa as the “cradle of mankind.” Through their evolutionary consequences, these factors evolved into the aggregate marketing system traits typical to Africa, which include the existence of multi-level markets connected by traders, a sharp distinction between the formal and informal sectors, and an overwhelming presence of micro-entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers. This analysis generates new insights into, among others, the role of biogeographical factors in marketing systems theory and the potential sources of competitive advantage and disadvantage for the endogenous African firms inherent to the system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-87
JournalJournal of Macromarketing
Issue number1
Early online date8 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Africa
  • African geography
  • human evolution
  • indigenous firms
  • marketing systems


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