How Unique is the Kenyan Consumer?

Standing in a slow moving queue in a local bank with other aggravated customers got me thinking: is the Kenyan consumer so loyal that one will stand through such poor service and not change provider? Or is the lack of consumer awareness so large that consumers are afraid of changing banks once they have signed up with one? Or maybe the Kenyan consumer forgets easily and is quick to forgive, is too sympathetic, and thinks; “it’s just this one time, things will definitely get better next time”. As it was Christmas Eve, I could not help sympathising with the bank attendants for having a foul mood on that day even though I thought they were being deliberately slow.

While listening to conversations in the queue about how that particular branch is always too slow, I could remember better service I have received at other banks and was already thinking of the bank I was going to transfer my account to, so why have I not done that yet?

How does one understand the Kenyan consumer? Is this typical consumer behaviour such that once a company has acquired market share, they can relax, ‘the Kenyan consumer is not going anywhere anyway’? Or will this trend be phased out?

Safaricom is another example, the likes of Airtel, YU, Orange mobile could not dent its market share even with lower call rates, free calls all day, and the new sending  mobile money for free to any network by Airtel. Even though Safaricom was rated worst mobile service provider by CCK in 2012, ( Is the Kenyan consumer afraid to try out new products?

How does a new product gain market share in such a market? The Pepsi market re-entry with Kshs. 2.4 billion plant off Thika road is yet to be felt, against Coca-Cola’s 63% carbonated drinks market share. What with the increasing urban consumer’s health awareness and health risks associated with carbonated drinks Coca-Cola have also come up with an answer to this, Coke zero. The main target for carbonated drinks is now rural areas, and need I say that to the common ‘mwananchi’, ‘soda’ (carbonated drink in Swahili) means Coca-Cola products? This leaves me wondering, how exactly do the likes of Pepsi plan to penetrate such a market?

Is there hope for a new market entrant?

Judy Mundia – Marketing Operations executive