Asian products dominate Kenyan shops as Europe brands struggle to survive
Posted Thursday, May 31 2012 at 21:56
A three-kilometre drive on Nairobi’s Lang’ata Road from the southern end of Uhuru Highway, a giant poster of Ivorian footballer Didier Drogba stands alongside an assortment of Samsung electronic gadgets.
True to design, the image of this electrifying Chelsea striker still remains a key distraction to users of this slow-traffic route almost two weeks after the last match of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) championship was played.
But the billboard means the Seoul-headquartered Samsung Group is currently holding the ace in the scramble for the eyeballs of thousands of people who pass near its bustling vicinity each day.
The Samsung’s ad reads: “LCD (Liquid crystal display based) LED TV: It is Drogba’s choice.”
On this 20-km stretch, not even the equally imposing posters of Siemens AG, East African Portland Cement, the Kenya Revenue Authority or Mr Price’s latest fashion arrivals appear to strike as much aura at the moment.
For a start, UEFA championships are known to light up fanaticism among youth, almost to levels previously reserved only to the idea of supernatural or ideal polity.
The attention to Mr Drogba’s image—in real life Africa’s face in the recent UEFA matches held several miles away in England where his goal helped in handing Chelsea the coveted top prize— was assured.
It even became a more formidable bet after word went out about plan to ditch his successful English club next month.
That it took a South Korean conglomerate to seize the opportunity of using Africa’s poster child of the moment in promoting its products speaks volumes of the smart moves that have helped Asian firms to dominate local market.
From this deft display of tactical ingenuity on Lang’ata Road, it may not be difficult to understand what have propelled Asian brands to household names in Kenya.
Whether it is a visit to Tuskys Supermarket’s T-Mall on Lang’ata Road or Nakumatt chain’s Galleria outlet located farther west on this road, the presence of Asian products in Kenya’s key retail outlets is mind-boggling.
A drive deeper south through Magadi Road to Kiserian Township, some 30kms from Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) only serves to reinforce this observation.
Ready examples of this market dominance exist in electronics sections of almost every retail outlet which stock products ranging from electric cables or iron boxes to complex ones such fridges, cookers or flat screen TVs.
In almost all the outlets visited electronic products on sale were mainly Korea’s Samsung and LG Corporation or Japan’s Sony and Sanyo which are steadily pushing those of European firms such as Philips Global out of local shelves.
Most stores in Kenya stock Asia-made motorcycles and bicycles-including models for children.