High inflation dims consumer optimism

Faced with declining incomes, consumers in Kenya are now more cautious with their spending, opting to buy fewer items, cut purchase frequency, and seek out cheaper alternatives and purchase channels.

The latest Kantar Africa Life Report shows a huge decline in consumer optimism in Kenya, with levels dipping to 50 percent down from 70 percent in 2019. This drop is attributable to the rising cost of living, which has fundamentally changed consumer behaviour in the country.

This economic strain has also shifted how consumers interact with financial services, increasingly relying on micro-lending solutions and informal banking for easier access to money.

In Kantar’s survey, M-PESA has remained Kenya’s leading SUPERBRAND for the third consecutive year, highlighting its critical role in the country’s financial ecosystem.

Meanwhile, M-KOPA has made a remarkable leap from 36th to 6th position between 2022 and 2024, driven by the firm’s flexible lending policies and the shift towards solar energy as a response to high electricity prices in Kenya.

The survey also highlights the impact of environmental crises on consumer preferences with the Kenya Red Cross maintaining its position in the Top 3 due to its effective response to the 2023 El Nino floods, which earned it widespread admiration.

At the same time, Supa Loaf emerged as the only food brand in the Top 10, after surging to 5th position from 13th in 2022, benefitting from its longstanding heritage and staple nature of bread for low-income households.

Read also: Kenya seeks IMF aid to escape money laundering ‘grey list’

Interestingly, traditional media such as Citizen TV, Radio Citizen, and The Daily Nation entered the Top 10 league for the first time. This shift aligns with a global trend of declining subscriptions to paid streaming services, as consumers favour free content-based media.

In the realm of disposable goods, Kenpoly retained its Top 10 position due to the popularity of its disposable cups at social gatherings. Similarly, Bamburi Cement remained steady, reflecting Kenya’s ongoing urbanization and population growth.

As consumers turn to e-commerce, their purchasing decisions are becoming more informed and selective. Brands that fail to differentiate themselves or justify their premium pricing are being penalised. The economic downturn has also diminished the relevance of certain sectors; notably, no betting companies featured in the top 10 rankings this year.

Jawad Jaffer, Project Manager at Superbrands East Africa noted, “The study reflects changing consumer needs and preferences. Brands must provide value to climb the ranks as consumers prioritize needs over wants.”

[email protected]

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.