Malls turn Kenyans into weekly shoppers

Saturday December 8 2012

The Junction shopping mall. Photo/File

The Junction shopping mall. Photo/File 

By BILLY MUIRURI [email protected]

Families in Kenya are now shopping at reduced intervals than they did last year.

And their visits are not just to buy foodstuff to go and cook; they are increasingly turning to ready cooked food, now available in supermarkets, a new survey shows.

A research by Consumer Insight shows weekly shoppers, especially those in urban areas, now stand at 55 per cent up from 46 per cent last year.

Those who buy their foodstuff on a daily basis have reduced from 13 to 11 per cent just like those who do it monthly, who have reduced from 15 per cent to eight per cent.

“Shopping outlets are now more available and people can buy what they need any time, even on their way home,” said Mr Ndirangu Wa Maina, the chief executive of Consumer Insight.

But personal finance analysts believe the shopping trend is due to availability of “offshore finance” away from people’s traditional sources of income.

“People’s lives no longer revolve around their monthly or daily incomes. People are getting money from their small deals, including side jobs. They are able to purchase any time of the month,” said Mr Moses Mwanthi, a personal finance adviser at Lea Limited, Nairobi.

The Reja Shopper Behaviour Research conducted on 1,305 customers sought to find out the emerging shopping trends in the country. Instructively, the report was released during the month of December, when the shopping bug bites many people.

The survey revealed that at 35 per cent, those aged 25-29 had the greatest appetite for shopping.

“This age group is on a shopping activation mode because most have started to earn, or are stocking their houses. Majority also have a high taste of new things,” Mr Maina said.

Twenty-nine per cent of shoppers were aged 30-40 per cent, while those over 40 years constituted 12 per cent.

Combined, it means 64 per cent of shoppers are aged between 25-40 years, which could mean manufacturers who target these age groups are likely to sell their products and services faster.

This demographic composition to a large extent explains why cooked food and chocolates are the top most products bought through impulse buying. At 17 per cent, cooked food could soon outsell chocolate on impulse buying category. The former was chosen by 18 per cent of the shoppers.

It was discovered that the number of urbanites buying ready cooked foods had shot by 50 per cent since last year — explaining why many supermarkets are opening eateries within their premises.

Mr Maina said most bachelors and spinsters are in this group and may need ready foods more.

“This group has no time... They are turning supermarkets into eateries,” he said.

The survey, which was carried out in Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nyeri, Nakuru, Eldoret and Machakos towns also shows that clean toilets and other sanitary facilities as well as ample parking may be the only things some shopping outlets will need to boost their customer base.

Eighty-six per cent of the respondents said they did their shopping at the same venue due to convenience, while 47 per cent said they had the low prices.

“Twenty three per cent returned to their shopping outlets severally because it had good toilets and somewhere they could park. All this added to the convenience bit, where convenience was largely measured by accessibility both from place of work or on their way home,” the CEO explained.

Purchase of groceries and fresh products on a daily basis has gone down from 13 to 11 per cent, due to among other reasons, the ability to preserve them in the houses.

Packaged nicely

According to the research, most people — 88 per cent — had stuck to the old brands. Forty-one per cent believed what they bought tasted better and was of better quality than its competitors.

But quite significantly, 13 per cent of shoppers said they bought products that were packaged nicely and placed at vantage positions at the shopping outlet. Linked to this was the discovery that 33 per cent of shoppers had actually learnt about their choice products for the first time when they saw them on the shelves.

Further, 16 per cent of shoppers made their choice after reading an advertisement in the supermarket.

“As such, the next theatre of competition for manufacturers will be at the shopping malls,” noted the researcher.

Although the use of cash as a medium of purchase remained at top, its prevalence reduced from a 98 to 95 per cent. Most likely, the three per cent shoppers are the ones who have shifted to the use of credit cards, which currently constitute four per cent from last year’s two per cent.