What mat­ters to Wak­enya

The Star (Kenya) - - News Business - CHRIS HAR­RI­SON Chris Har­ri­son leads The Brand Inside

There’s so lit­tle in­vest­ment in con­sumer re­search these days. I some­times think mar­ket re­searchers should sam­ple mar­keters to find out what is go­ing on.

Any­way, when­ever any mean­ing­ful study comes my way, I make it my busi­ness to read and ab­sorb. The lat­est piece, called Wak­enya, was re­cently con­ducted by Con­sumer In­sights Africa. A piece on Uganda is planned for 2017.

Wak­enya sam­pled 3,500 peo­ple aged 13-plus from ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas and across the coun­ties. It doesn’t make seis­mic rev­e­la­tions, but high­lights some trends that are wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion.

They cite health and well-be­ing as a ma­jor con­cern, but many don’t act in the way you might ex­pect. Forty two per cent don’t go to the doc­tor, pre­fer­ring to self-med­i­cate with home reme­dies or buy drugs over the counter. Know­ing the high in­ci­dence of coun­ter­feit drugs and un­li­censed phar­ma­cies, I find that wor­ry­ing. Only 24 per cent trust in­sur­ance, and they tend to be older wealth­ier ur­ban men. Oth­ers don’t see the value or sim­ply don’t un­der­stand the con­cept.

Kenyans con­tinue to marry young: half our ladies marry un­der 24 years of age. Sev­enty per cent of girls and 50 per cent of boys claim to have been sex­u­ally ac­tive when they were un­der 16 years. The good news is that women are tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for con­tra­cep­tion, but the bad news is that men aren’t. Young cou­ples are in­creas­ingly opt­ing out of for­mal re­li­gious wed­dings; and the in­ci­dence of un­happy come-we-stay ‘mar­riages’ is ris­ing.

Only 41 per cent of Kenyans sam­pled banked with bricks and mor­tar in­sti­tu­tions. Money is mo­bile, and over a third of the sam­ple had taken loans from vir­tual providers like M-Sh­wari. Pre­ferred sources of bor­row­ing are still friends and fam­ily for men, and re­la­tion­ship bank­ing (chamas and sac­cos) for women. One in three Kenyans holds three SIM cards and dances nim­bly be­tween them to man­age calls, mo­bile money and data. This may change soon, when the cost of broad­band is pre­dicted to drop through over­sup­ply and ac­cess to pro­lif­er­ate through non-mo­bile plat­forms.

The big losers in mod­ern Kenya are the tra­di­tional me­dia groups who han­dle the dig­i­tal tran­si­tion badly, and now feel­ing the pain of erod­ing rel­e­vance. Last week in this col­umn we dis­cussed the mean­ing­less job­ber jabber of com­mer­cial ra­dio. Now Wak­enya re­veals that 67 per cent of ra­dio au­di­ences are el­derly and ru­ral. Only 22 per cent of the sam­ple read news­pa­pers. While TV con­tin­ues to at­tract younger view­ers they are in­creas­ing see­ing it free - when they want it, and with­out com­mer­cials – on­line.

Re­view­ing the rest of the sur­vey I have a dis­tinct feel­ing that Kenyans are in­creas­ingly do­ing what they want to do as in­di­vid­u­als, whether any­one else thinks that is right or not.

Not sur­pris­ing then that Con­sumer In­sights sug­gests there are seven new mind­sets that will make life harder for brands. Per­haps that’s why mar­keters don’t buy re­search any more.

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