Mobile Retail in Kenya

By Leo Mutuku
iHub Research
  Published 20 Jul 2012
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InMobi, an independent mobile ad network, last Thursday (July 12th) released findings from their research study titled Mobile in Retail: Kenya. This research was carried out in two different phases classified into the TelcCo vertical and the Retail vertical. The research was carried out in collaboration with Decision Fuel, an Asian based independent mobile research company, surveying over 2,000 respondents in total.
This study targeted mobile savvy users, majority of who were between the ages of 20-34 -most internet users are the youth, anyway- thus they took this survey via mobile websites, native apps and online platforms. An interesting observation made from the study was on the impressive representation of the rural areas with 28% of the respondents from rural areas (small villages or town) responding to the Telco vertical survey, and 23% of the responses to the Retail vertical survey from a similar demographic. Below we highlight key findings from this: TelCo Vertical findings:
  • Majority of time spent online via a mobile phone is on entertainment and social media, with more males using internet on their phones as compared to the women. In particular, male subscribers, in comparison to their female counterparts, use their mobiles more for sports, news and games contents. Female subscriber usage tends to outweigh that of the males when it comes to calling and texting. (no surprise there!)
  • Majority of the respondents stated that they were most likely to pay for content related to music (56%); social apps (38%); video (30%). Not only were they willing to pay for these services once, but severally. The study reports that 90% of Kenyans are actively downloading apps, ringtones and wallpapers an average of 9 times per month.
  • Key frustrations facing mobile phone users are related to (in order of most frustrating to the least) high cost of communication; limited data coverage; customer service; hidden charges; limited voice coverage/dropped calls. This is an especially interesting find, considering costs of calling and texting in this country are among the least inexpensive worldwide
  • 52% of respondents believed they would be highly incentivized to use a TelCos service given bonus or free data. This goes to strengthen many experts’ and TelCo’s opinion that the utility of data is the next frontier in mobile technology in Kenya.
  • There are numerous complaints from subscribers on the various media platforms on promotional advertising. They are usually termed as spam as the service provider tends to send several regular text messages advertising services. They may therefore want to consider using online mobile ads instead which have a lot of potential from the research findings. (44% of Pre-paid subscribers; 33% of post paid subscribers)
Retail Vertical:
  • Mobile phones are rapidly augmenting consumer’s shopping experience in what, InMobi termed as Search-andizing. Mobile phones are increasingly being used in supermarkets to query product nature (65% of subscribers) and even with street traders (payment for groceries with Mobile money: 29%).
  • The research advises that the key time to capture a shopper is just before they go out to shop as they would most likely want to query/ learn more before purchasing goods such as electronics (68%), fashion items (67%), dining options (46%). For this reason, the report says, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is imperative for mobile.
  • Beyond simple product search, (44%) users also like to use their phones for services such as price comparison. This is a point of conflict as many brands are reluctant to put their prices online. Additionally, 41% of smart phone users scan product codes to get more info online while another 20% send pictures to friends or store for own consideration later.
  • InMobi, through recommendations from this report, urges retailers to change mind sets and realize price comparisons and pictures are useful mobile content to promote their brands. They propose to retailers to leverage on the power of useful tools such as HTML5 to bring products to life as well as maps and other locators in build to their website to assist shoppers locate their premises. Further, they recommend consideration of retailer apps such as paperless receipts, loyalty cards, coupons and discounts.
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