Politics and policy
More consumers use cell phones for shopping
Posted Sunday, July 15 2012 at 17:51
Kenyan consumers are increasingly using mobile devices such as cell phones to make shopping decisions, including making price comparisons and getting references from friends through social media, a new study has shown.
A consumer research by InMobi Africa, a mobile advertising network, shows that most buyers polled use their mobile phones and tablets to hunt for bargains, review product features and learnt the latest trends online before making purchases.
The survey carried out between June 24 to July 7, 2012 in major urban centres and rural areas across Kenya polled 503 respondents to establish the extent to which consumers use mobile phones to boost their shopping experience.
“The mobile phone has become the consumer’s constant companion. It is their social interface to the world and also reaches them when they are economically active unlike many other types of media,” said Mr Moses Kemibaro, the sales director at InMobi Africa.
The consumer behaviour research revealed that tech savvy Kenyan consumers engage in “searchandising,” or use mobile gadgets to enhance their spending.
The study shows that out those polled, 34 per cent were driven to make a buy based on information sourced from mobile phones.
The latest statistics from the Communications Commission of Kenya shows that of the 11.8 million Internet users in Kenya as at the end of March this year, 98.8 per cent access the Web through mobile phones.
Mobile Internet has empowered consumers to search for information from the Web and engage friends on social media to endorse planned purchases.
InMobi says some users save shopping lists in the form of a draft text message and other shoppers track their expenses through mobile money solutions such as m-banking.
Asked what kind of goods and services they searchandise, those surveyed prioritised electronics and appliances, fashion items and luxury goods such as clothing, accessories and jewellery as the most sought- after items.
Others include online assessment of restaurants and bars for restaurants and bars before going out; cars, bicycles and groceries.
The consumer behaviour research revealed that 65 per cent of the shoppers polled said they engage in searchandising in supermarkets; 34 per cent in boutique stores; 31 per cent in shopping malls and only 29 per cent at informal street markets.
“The challenge for consumers in Kenya is that there isn’t enough mobile Web content providing price comparisons, product reviews and location-based tools such as maps,” said Mr Daryn Smith, the head of marketing at InMobi Africa.
The mobile advertising firm said higher income earners are 11 per cent likely to searchandise as they have more disposable income and access to better quality smartphones and mobile gadgets like tablets which provide “optimum mobile web access” by featuring 3D modelling, scrolling catalogues and photo albums.
“Targeting potential shoppers with mobile advertising is key for retailers, by offering mobile coupons for example; a retailer could switch a shopper, even if the shopper is in a competitor store at that point in time,” said Mr Kemibaro.
Female youths are 10 per cent more likely to conduct price comparisons and even take pictures of what they want to buy in order to get their friends’ input on products.