MARKET INSIGHTS: WHY THE FACEBOOK GENERATION MATTERS

Fact:24-35 year olds make the largest percentage of any age group spending time online.

Question:Are brands paying attention?

Facebook has changed market dynamics.

It has changed the way we relate to each other,it has brought people from all walks of life together .Created virtual communities around interests and brands in a way that for a person who studies trends online, is simply astounding.

Almost every business is on the online wall of fame…facebook .

You no longer have to pick groceries at the supermarket ,go shopping for clothes,cosmetics or baby essentials at a brick and mortar store.

You can do it online and with the way money transfer works in Kenya…voila ..goods delivered and you did not even have to step out of your house  or office.

This trend is replicated in many other markets across Africa and in the world.

Companies,small and medium-sized businesses are now on Facebook and many have attracted their customers to their pages with offers,discounts and many other enticing goodies and freebies.

But how many of these business are paying attention to what 24-35 year olds are doing and discussing online.

This age group spends a lot of time online.

How many have sat  their marketing teams down  and discussed or even put in place plans for  what their customers will need in five or even a years time?

How many have taken in mind the changing lifestyles of these same group in 10 years time and put in place structures that will ensure they are customers for life?

When Safaricom Limited released its first quarty report,it reported that 80 billion Kenya shillings accounted for transactions between customers on its   Mpesa money transfer service.

Did you get that…. 80 billion Kenyan shillings,a third of the country’s GDP in just 6 months.

Read more about the results here and here.

With the way things online are shaping up,the next quarter will be a fantastic one for the mobile company that controls the largest percentage of the mobile money transfer market. It has more than 15 million customers registered on the mobile money transfer business.

Why focus on this age group?

These are people on their first/second jobs.

They have money to spend.

They are at crucial  periods in their lives  where major decisions like getting life partners,starting families,settling in their careers matter .

They want great service/products and are happy to pay for them.

They are creating groups based on common interests from online businesses/entrepreneurs to mummy groups to dissatisfied customer groups.

They are sharing ideas on where to get the best deals on houses,mobile devices,great discounts and venting when they get bad service.

For brands that want to keep their customers and gain more market share it means they have to be good, really good at whatever service/product they are offering.

They have to learn to anticipate what their customers need and provide it .

They have to provide a really great customer experience .

By paying attention to the lifestyle dynamics   and interests  this  generation enjoys,brands will be able to anticipate their customer needs,meet them  and survive the market place.

Let brands start listening to the online chattering going on among online communities,put their ears to the ground(figuratively of course)…it matters and in more ways than one.

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KENYANS FOR KENYA:Why it needs to be long term.

No Kid Hungry is a  campaign that aims at ensuring no child in America goes without food,the national spokesperson and founder for End hunger network   is actor Jeff Bridges.On their website they ask people to donate at least a dollar that will go towards seeing a child receive up to 10 healthy meals.Already over 53,000 peole have signed up for the campaign and it is definitely set to attract more people.

In Kenya we have had the KenyansforKenya initiative started by the private sector, that has seen over 600,000 peole in a country of over 40 million donate in cash and kind to the appeal that was began to feed hungry Kenyans in northern Kenya.When the campaign started i tweeted that i hoped this would not be a short term strategy but that the initiators of this fund drive would find a way to make it long term.The same calls for long term solutions to hunger issues were raised when the private sector held a fund raising at one of the upmarket hotels in the capital city Nairobi last week.The intiative almost hit its halfa billion shillingtarget and you can read more about the drive here.

Now in an earlier article on the current food crisis  i detailed how i made a trip round the rift valley and saw acres and acres of farmland under maize crop .How i drove by little towns ,where market women and men sat by mounds of vegetables and cobs of green maize and potatoes waiting for buyers.Yet we were busy importing maize from outside the country to stem the deficit that is the cause of the hike in food prices especially of maize.Many people reading this who are not familiar with the Kenyan diet will wonder at our obsession with maize or corn as it is called in certain parts of the world.But maize meal is to Kenyans what pasta is to the Italians,so you can imagine the kind of crisis precipitated when  the precious commodity runs out.

While appreciating the good work and generosity Kenyans and friends of Kenya have shown in supporting the campaign i hope there are long term measures by both the public and private sector to see that we have an initiative along the lines of No kid Hungry.This will ensure that no Kenyan child will sleep hungry or miss school because they lacked a nourishing and  satisfying meal at the end of the day.

School feeding program is already in place in some parts of the country where children attending school at least get some food when they are in session.These programmes are funded by both government and international donors.

If such programs like these can be expanded such that the most vulnerable members of our society and especially children are guaranteed a meal or even three meals every day it would go along way towards ensuring that the countrys’ future citizens are given a chance to  grow and thrive.

When all is said and done each of us owes it to future generations,whether we have children or not to ensure that we leave this country a better place than we found it.This includes making sure another generation of Kenyans do not grow up knowing the ravages and pangs of drought and hunger.Over to you Kenyans for Kenya team…… hope this is the beginning of a hunger free country.

MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY SIDESHOWS

Mobile Number Portability(MNP) has not been the runaway success it was touted to be.Al we have seen so far have been sideshows from major players in the mobile phone industry with the regulator (CCK) acting as an uninterested bystander.The verbal fights have been playing out between Safaricom,Airtel and Porting Access Kenya..

Orange Kenya and Yu the other mobile service providers have been watching from the sidelines as the other two players exchange bitter words over the past 6 weeks since MNP was launched.

A little history a to why these two bitter rivals have been having these exchanges in the media is important.It goes back a long way but the recent spat was sparked off by the recent lowering of interconnection rates.Safaricom and Airtel have been outdoing each other in a bid to woo their rivals customers while maintaining a hold on their current subscriber base.These has seen customer enjoy all manner of freebies from reduced prices on high end phones,to free calls,to doubling of airtime to becoming instant millionaires.The reason this fight is this fierce is because like all business ventures they are ,looking at their bottom line against a backdrop of reduced revenue,increasing and recurring operational costs and a market that has become highly competitive.

None of the companies involved be it Orange Kenya,YU,Airtel or Safaricom can afford to sit back and relax as the battle for subscriber numbers has just started.Each one of them have to come up with innovative ideas and ways to retain their customer base while wooing those from th competition.This should be good news to the customer,but so far the increased competitiveness and customer choice that was envisaged has taken a back seat to the side sows.

What we need to see from all the players is a more transparent approach to portability,full disclosure and not the lies peddled as terms and conditions whenever you are signing up with a service provider.Better customer service,clearer networks,speedier resolution of issues and better incentives are what the customer is looking for.The verbal exchanges we are being treated to daily are just but mere diversionary tactics from the REAL issues.

SAFARICOM…Moving forward

Safaricom the mobile telephony company has been the biggest business story in the country for the past 10 years.It has broken all the records in terms of profit,subscriber numbers,media campaigns,IPO subscription you name it,Safaricom has been there done it.

The coming years are going to be the defining moments for this mobile giant and Bob Collymore has his work cut out for him.This must have influenced his decision to restructure the top management to be in line with what he sees are the future challenges the company faces.The new management reflects the company’s focal point as revenue generation and customer retention.

As number portability launches on the 1st of April this year,the company will have to do more to ensure it does not loose any of the 18 million customers it already has.This means that Safaricom needs to redefine its mission to ensure that it keeps its promises to its customers at being the best communication service provider in the country.It needs o be the benchmark by which its rivals measure their success.The top management at Safaricom can no longer afford to be seen to be sitting back enjoying pinacoladas as they enjoy the success the company has seen for the past 10 years,they need to be 10 steps ahead of the competition and in step with global communication trends world wide.No longer will customers be satisfied with the “Niko na Safaricom” slogan ,they need to be more than satisfied with the services and products that they pay the company for.

Mpesa mobile money transfer service won a lot of accolades the world over for its innovativenness and for making banking availabe to anyone with a phone.The same cutting edge innovativeness needs to be seen in all the products and services Safaricom puts forward from now on.We no longer want to see those automated messages of”mpesa is experiencing delays,please try again later”,we need to see things working on time and when we need them.Bob Collymore is going to have to push his team to deliver on the promises and expectaions Kenyans have for this local company that has scaled heights no other corporate in Kenyan history has done before.

Over to you Bob and your team,are you going to deliver?