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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GREEN ENERGY :Way to go for the energy sector in Kenya

This past week South Africa came up with a Green Accord that is meant to create at least 300,000 jobs in the green energy sector.

The sectors targeted in this accord are agriculture,energy and transport.

It hopes to manufacture wind turbines and solar panels locally to meet the country’s energy needs.

Meanwhile back home in Kenya fuel prices have gone up again and everything else from the packet of milk to the tomatoes at the grocery will soon reflect this rise in price.

I was watching a short feature on one of the news channels that was focusing on solar energy use and was appalled to see a government employee decrying the high cost of solar energy.

In his opinion it was a venture too expensive for the government to undertake.

Yet if you think about it there would be so much to be saved in the long run.

Apparently it only takes about 130,000 Kenya shillings to install a solar system in a residential house.

If you think about the annual cost in expenditure on electricity bills annaully per household , we would see that using solar energy would be win- win for all involved in the long run?

The Kenyan government has been talking of commissioning a nuclear plant,which will cost billions in tax payers money.Yet   being in the tropics and enjoying so  much sunlight we would be better of making use of what we already have-the sun.

Countries which do not enjoy as much sunlight as we do are already making use of the free energy the sun provides by investing in it,so why cant we?

Will we always remain a anet importer of fuel to power diesel driven genrators,shackling the Kenyan tax payer with more national debts to pay and  to a life of misery .

What is the work of the expertts and bureaucrats in the energy ministry if they are not offering alternatives to the energy crisis that will only become worse as the Kenyan population grows?

Maybe it is up to home owners now to take charge of their energy use,next time you are putting up that sprawling mansion,put aside some money to install your own solar panels to power your  home use.

That way you will be saving yourself a lot of heart ache from the intermittent supply from the Kenyan Power and thousands of shillings in electricity costs in the long run.

SIGNS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH:METAL DOORS CAN GIVE YOU A CLUE

Economists  get my mind in a spin when they start talking about projections,GDP and the stock market being bullish or bearish and other what not terms they use to describe the economy.

It is even more depressing watching news and they bring on the “5 seconds of fame” which is what business news  has been relegated to.Then my migraines start,the dollar is giving the Kenyan shilling a run for tis money yet our runners are celebrities because of their swiftness in marathons.

So I have come up with my own economic indicator on how tot ell how well the economy is doing .It basically involves a few things and people,pastry shops,masons,restaurants,stone masons and alcohol.

When I moved to Nakuru three years ago ,there were only three pastry shops and two   only served one kind of cake flavour -vanilla.There was a third that had a wider variety of sweet pastries but unfortuantely closed two years ago to give way to a mall.Thank God others came up to take its place.

Now take a walk around Nakuru,last time I checked there were twomore  coffee shops and three more cafe’s where you could have more than one variety of cake.

And we all know that Nakuru has been labelled one of the fastest growing town in Africa.

As an economy improves so do people’s spending power and if there are no customers for your sweet pastries,the economy is bad.

A population that does not consume enough sweet items like fancy cakes,pastries… is definetely  headed south

Another indicator of a  growing economy is how much wine is being drank.In Kenya it is  only a select few who drink wine and most of them are  upper middle class  or connossieurs who picked up the habit in their world travels.

A growing middle class will want to taste the finer things in life and is a good indicator the economy is growing in the right direction.A population drinking wine has moved from being concerned with what to put on the he table to a more adventorous palate.

The more the bottles wine shops are sellling  the better,your economy is on the right track.

You also need to look at the number of ethnic restaurants coming up and by this I do not mean those serving Kenyan cuisine.

The number of people eating out will be a good indicator that  Kenyans have enough money to spend to eat out because you guessed…..the economy is doing well.

They want to try out new cuisines,flavours,textures they want to see what they can enjoy outside what they taste buds are used to.

Talking to stone masons,carpenters and plumbers is also a good way to gauge how well  we are doing economically.The more you talk to who are working the better because in a growing economy the real estate industry shows people are either building their own homes or setting up  offices to meet the increasing demand.

But be careful with real estate,selling off agricultural land to set up gated communities is a no no.

Illegal drink business will also tell you how well the Kenyan economy is doing.he bigger it is the more worried economists should be. In a vibrant economy there would be no need to lace drinks with alcohol or implement laws to check on illigal drinks.

In the  Kenyan economy,the poorer it performs   the more deaths from methanol laced drinks there are.

And my absolute favourite………

Number of homes with metal doors and grill bars on windows will also let you know the economy is so bad people are protecting their few material possessions from the kleptomaniacs who seek to reap where they have not sown.

The more barred up windows,doors and air vents there are,the more likely it is your economy is headed south.

So there are my “economic indicators” let the jury decide whether I am right or wrong.

KENYAN SLAVES IN THE GULF

This article in yesterdays Sunday Standard sent chills down my spine,the inhumane treatment that Kenyans go through in the Gulf was sickening.That they are even auctioned off was a reminder of the slavery days when thousands died on ships  as they were transported to the Americas to work on plantations.

Centuries later,history is replaying itself as hundreds of Kenyan men and women are shipped to the Gulf for opportunities that for a number of death are ending up in death or with broken limbs.

The Kenyan media has played a huge role in highlighting the issues these Kenyans face there,working on menial jobs far away from home they are subjected to long working hours,denied food and even abused by some of their employers .

The government remains indecisive and the recruitment agents that procure these jobs for these Kenyans are smiling all the way to the bank.

Despite the fact that the press is doing its job by warning Kenyans of these” too good” to be true opportunities in these Gulf countries,many Kenyans are still risking life and limb in their quest for meaningful employment.

It is time the government did more to save any more Kenyans from meeting their deaths at the hands of these crooked employers.

DOMESTIC TOURISM MARKET IN KENYA

July of this year marked my one year anniversary since i started marketing my domestic tourism business.

A lot of it has been trial and error since i didn’t have much of a grasp of the industry except what I had read and seen from the media.

So excited was I ,having grown up with a dad  who had been to almost every game reserve,resort,national park you name it as a film producer,he would bring back home photos of wildlife and I can still remember I kept a brochure of the Ark under my bed vowing i would go there some day..

Now years later,the brochure is lost,I haven’t been to the Ark but i want more Kenyans to visit this beautiful country we call home.

If you haven’t ever heard of this song,you need to listen to it, because it makes you feel like rushing to a tour operators and booking a holiday to Malindi,Lamu,Maasai Mara anywhere in this beautiful country.Seeing ever nook and cranny of my country is certainly on my bucket list and i wish it is on every one’s list too.

That said you have to wonder why the government does not spend as much money marketing our beautiful country to its own residents.Kenya has a growing middle class with money to spend and we are sitting on millions in terms of revenue if we could tap into this niche market.

There was a domestic tourism board that had been set up under the Ministry of Tourism but you never hear anything from them.

A lot of us Kenyans are guilty of never having travelled to see our country as it is ,most of us have seen Malindi town from the comfort of our couches in our living rooms when some news item from them catches the eye of a news editor.

Yet Malindi is an hour away by flight.

There are so many great places to visit in this country some just a drive away it is possible for one to spend their whole lives discovering the gems that lie just in our backyards.

From the little church built by Italian prisoner of war along the Mai Mahiu road,to the castle that was built for love by Lord Egerton in Ngata ,Nakuru,to the house where Jomo Kenyatta was put under house arrest in Kapenguria,the places to visit are inexhaustible.

Not to mention the archaeological sites scattered all along the Rift Valley…we have so much to celebrate.

It s time we started selling the concept of family holidays,safaris to Kenyans,it should not just be a preserve of foreigners that they should enjoy what this country has to offer.

We should celebrate our diversities and this will only be possible if we are able to venture outside our “gates”.

Hopefully the yet to be formed county governments will take into consideration the domestic tourism as a niche market to expand their revenue base.

ECONOMIC CRISIS:IDEAS FOR THE TAXMAN

There was a lot of brouhaha that followed after the energy regulatory body (ERC)in Kenya announced that fuel prices would rise.This however was quickly followed by a reduction on tax on kerosene and diesel of 30% and 20% respectively.

Kerosene is the major cooking fuel in a majority of Kenyan households especially in the low income bracket and the price of fuel determines transport costs not only for Kenyan workers but it affects food prices as well.

The Government responded swiftly in mitigating a crisis that was slowly brewing as civil rights groups had already planned for mass action to protest the increasing cost of living.

While appreciating the situation the Minister of Finance faces in trying to meet the targets set for this year with an upcoming budget,we also need to remember that ordinary Kenyans are facing an increase in the cost of living yet their wages and salaries remain the same.The situation is the same for all Kenyans across the board whether in formal or informal employment people are feeling the pinch of the current crisis.

The government hover does have some avenues it can pursue to make sure that the ongoing economic crunch.First of all would be to ave MP’s salaries taxed,it would make sure that at least KRA coffers received the much needed revenue to reduce the deficit that they are definitely going to record this quarter.It would also give our honorable members some good PR in the eyes of the mwananchi by walking a mile in the shoes of the tax payers.

We all know of that our Ministers and MP’s travel a lot in the course of their duty and most of the time it is business class.How about them going economy for the duration of the crisis.Some extra pennies in the exchequer would make honorable Uhuru smile.

A lot of tax payers money goes towards fueling the fleet that transports our Ministers and state officials to government functions where they arrive in style as befits their position.For just a few weeks they can endure having to carpool when they have to travel to these and other functions where government officials are needed- few shillings more added to Uhuru’s purse.

CALL RATES,TAXES AND BUDGET DEFICIT

When the mobile price wars started and everyone was celebrating the lowered rates i said we would pay for it in a few months when KRA fell short of its tax collection.At the time people said i was spoiling the party.Months later the chickens have come home to roost and KRA has already fallen short of its target for this quarter by 5 billion.
Airtel on the other hand goes ahead and lowers its call rates to 1 kshs per minute,you have got to wonder what they are using to pay their employees .

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has come out and said price wars will not be sustainable and this coming from a man who heads a company that is essentially Kenyan made and owned we need to worry.While everyone would love today almost next to nothing for calls we need to remember we have husbands,brothers,mothers and fathers who run this hugely successful(so far) corporate and come October it share holder will be expecting to get some dividends for investing heir hard earned cash on this Kenyan company.Its i my hope that the CCK i taking some time out to reflect on the ongoing shenanigans in the mobile phone market and their sustainability in the final end because come June when Mr Uhuru reads the budget which is expected to hit the 1 trillion mark they will not want to play to the public gallery again by endorsing rules that hurt successful enterprises.

For the country to be bale to pay its bloated cabinet,run its fuel guzzlers,pay the endless commissions and our not so honorable members of parliament we may need to pay more for certain essential items.As sure as the sun will rise from the east tomorrow i would bet my left arm that we are going to see tax increases in June.And seeing that next year is an election year the issues facing the common man will be very far from our legislators mind so forget the MPS being rational over the mwananchis’ concerns