UNDERSTANDING THE KENYAN INTERNET MARKET

Kenyans are weird! No, that’s probably too derogatory. Let’s just say that Kenyans are different. Think of the usual stereotypes of grumbling about a politician then voting him back in come election time, or flocking an overturned petrol truck knowing full well the potential repercussions. Forget even our obsession with everything Chinese, except Chinese food of course which is ironically quite expensive.

I like to think that the above description is totally skewed to a very sad wee section of the country.

A new crop of Kenyans, made up of college educated, urban living, middle to high income earning individuals is slowly emerging as the market to watch in Kenya. These individuals have independent and aspirational mindsets, are more informed on their choices, and definitely know a raw deal when they see one. The majority of these individuals falls within the 23 – 44 years old demographic, and guess what, they form the greater bulk of the internet market. I’m talking over 70% of a market that takes up half the 6.8 million internet users in East Africa. For the purpose of this post, let’s call them the Alphas.

You want to succeed in marketing your internet business to this Market? Here’s my two cents worth of insight.

  1. Alphas like to be on top
    No, not in a Fashion sense, though you will most likely find them trending the latest in fashion wear. Alphas have grown up in a competitive atmosphere. From being cajoled into being in the top cream from primary school through high school, to being made to believe that anything less than a Distinction in college is a Fail, to having to shine through a series of aptitude tests to get that dream job, Alphas are conditioned to be ahead. Give them a chance to be ahead of the pack and you already have their attention.
    Examples? KenyaBuzz.com offers users a genuine chance to know what’s happening, before it happens, and the result? 1.5 Million visits a month to their website with premium ad spaces. Home.co.ke offers users a gateway to everything regarding Kenya, and the result? Over 1 million visits a month, less than a year later. Mocality.com came in and offered users over 20,000 entries in its directory listing plus free mobile access. Do I need to explain the result?
  2. Alphas like to have a say
    Did I mention before that Alphas are more informed in their choices? More information means more opinions. Alphas are always looking for a way to express what they think, or feel. How else do you explain all the blogs sprouting up by the day? They like to know that their opinion matters. That’s why I think gotissuez.com is headed to greater grounds, and why ushahidi.com is what it is today. Give them a say, and they have a reason to come back.
  3. Alphas like to have fun
    Walk into a Nairobi night club on a Tuesday night and you will see what I mean. End month is probably the best time for most Alphas since that’s when the big boys and girls upstairs decide to give them a ticket to uninhibited fun. Ask any foreigner who has been to Nairobi and they will tell you, Kenyans are fun! How does this help your internet business? Give them a boring website and that’s the last time you are seeing them there. Have you been to eatout.co.ke? If you enjoy eating out like I do, you will definitely enjoy finding the perfect location on this website.
  4. Alphas like a good bargain
    Yes they enjoy a certain pay package every end month, but life in Kenya is expensive. Have you seen the latest word rankings? Nairobi is at number 88 worldwide! If they will find a way to save some of that money, they will go for it. Is your website offering them a true to God chance of saving money or earning some more money? I bet you my two cents they will come flocking. Eatout.co.ke has managed to do this quite well.
  5. Alphas like convenience
    Just listen to the news; 2 million Kenyans access the internet on their mobile phones, the KRA website is one of the most visited websites in Kenya now due to its online service portal, all the banks are now rushing towards mobile banking because, yeah, we want convenience and we will move if you don’t give it to us. Or check this out. Safaricom isn’t the most favorite mobile service provider in Kenya, but hey, they have M-PESA, and Okoa Jahazi, and Bonga Points. What do these services have in common? Convenience! I assure you over 50% of Alphas have an active Safaricom line, and that’s just a modest estimate. Does your internet service make my life easier? How much easier? If you have convincing answers to these questions, I’ll be back.

    Have you been to kenyamoja.com? 30 minutes each morning and I know what’s making news, what’s hot in blogosphere, and current job openings. That’s convenience.

  6. Alphas like to belong
    ‘My boys and I’ or ‘My girls and I’ are very common expressions among Alphas. Almost every activity that an Alpha engages in involves being part of a group. Why? Alphas are mostly aspirational; few have reached what you would call self actualization. This means being on their own arouses feelings of retrogression and probably even frustration. Hence the Social Networks, and the Saccos, and the Chamas and the Drinking buddies.

    If your internet service instigates a sense of belonging, and being part of something progressive, you are bound to draw them in drones. I feel that there is a huge opportunity in this area in Kenya and the few community builder pioneers in Kenya like iborian.com and whive.com still have the horizons open to them.

If your internet business meets at least half of the traits above, you are on your way there.

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3 Responses to “UNDERSTANDING THE KENYAN INTERNET MARKET”


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  1. 1 Monday Moments Ep 11 – The Best 7 of 2010!! « Intervangelist East Africa Trackback on December 5, 2010 at 2:42 pm

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