Rise of female consumerFriday May 13 2022
Away from the traditional expenditure on perfumes, clothing, and shoes, women buyers are increasingly becoming an important force.
Hoteliers, tour agents, realtors, and stock brokerage firms say they are seeing an increase in the number of Kenyan women buying stocks, land, property, and even tech products.
They are the main drivers of recovery in hotels as they book holidays, Sunday brunches and high teas, to baby showers and girls’ day out dinners.
Njeri Njoroge, a property expert at Regent Group, a real estate management company, says the current trend shows more women acquiring land and property. These women buy as groups (chamas) or even as individuals.
“Many women groups are buying land in Nairobi metro area and in areas such as Nanyuki in Laikipia hoping to develop it in the future by building family homes,” she says.
Individual women, though, are buying land in different parts of the country “depending on their intended use and interests” in those areas.
“The majority of women buying land away from Nairobi are doing so for predominantly speculation purposes. They hope the value of land in these areas will appreciate over time and allow them to sell at a profit,” Njeri adds.
Eunice Wanjira is one such woman. In addition to buying personal items, for her comfort, Wanjira is more intentional about investing in her family’s future. An ardent traveller, she says investment in assets such as land is a solid form of insurance.
“It reassures me that my family will live well in the days to come. I will be able to leave something for them,” she says, noting that her land is still undeveloped.
35 and 45 years
In terms of the demographics of women land buyers, Njeri notes that it is women aged between 35 and 45 who are buying property.
There are also younger women going for land.
“They are mostly career women or those in business. These are women in the middle-income bracket,” she explains.
Other than land, some women are even going for already built homes and apartments.
“In Nairobi, for instance, those buying apartments are doing so with business in mind. They take up several units of an apartment for investment through, say, renting if it is a residential unit. We have seen this happening a lot in areas such as Ruiru in Kiambu County.”
With the upsurge of women land and property buyers, Njeri says dealers now appreciate the potential of this market segment, and that they now develop targeted marketing messages.
“Real estate agents no longer put out messages without a target. They specifically state who they are targeting with their product portfolios, such as individual women, family women or chamas,” she explains about an advert by one real estate company.
Then some women are going for stocks and other products in the money market. This week, EFG Hermes Kenya, a financial services company, organised in Nairobi a training on stocks for women, to respond to growing interest among them.
“The gap in access to formal financial services has been closing over time. Women are also becoming more confident about taking up financial products. They are also bolder about taking risks unlike before,” says Muathi Kilonzo, the head of Equities at EFG Hermes Kenya.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant loss of income and jobs also pushed especially women to explore other forms of investment to cushion themselves from shocks of future disruptions.
“Women, like their men counterparts, discovered these opportunities and put their money in them. What the industry needs to do now is to increase this reach to women,” Muathi adds.
The equities expert notes that the uptake of financial products among women is naturally driven by trust and reliability.
“Technology is also improving access to formal financial services. You cannot underestimate the place of mobile and apps, which allow consumers to buy products whenever and from wherever they are. If you are a home-maker [rather than a career or businesswoman] you can access mobile loans, for instance, and invest in money markets.”
Fledger Njiru believes that money can buy happiness. "You need a decent bank account to go on a good holiday and to live well.”
“I am fortunate to have a pensionable job. I am also a member of a few saccos. I am also investing in my education. Even so, I believe in living for the moment. Why should I be too concerned about a future that is not guaranteed?’’
Her indulgences? “I love tech. I will buy myself a nice laptop or smartphone.”
But what is motivating women to spend more? Samuel Wainaina, a financial expert and author, says that highly educated women and those scaling the corporate ladder with higher earnings are more likely to spend money on experiences.
“Economically empowered women are more assertive on matters touching on household budgets and personal reward. These are the women who pay a lot of money for expensive wines, vacations, cars, high-end fashion, premium gym subscriptions, and cuisines,” says Wainaina.
He explains that discerning businesses are now responding to this trend.
“They are launching new or re-engineering their existing products and services [and messaging around them]. The intention is to capture women who love fashion, jewellery, grooming, high-end restaurants, entertainment spots and even banking products.”
He notes that this translates to increased sales, growth of commerce and an expanding economy.
For psychologist Maryanne Waruguru, there is far more to women’s expenditure than just financial and socioeconomic drivers. She argues that there exist fundamental differences in how men and women view money and consumption.
“Money is a source of esteem and power for men. This way they take heavy risks in an attempt to make more money. Women, though, are more risk-averse. They treat money as a means of acquiring experiences. The spending comes with fewer risks, which is why they would rather spend on fine things in life,” she says.
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