Transsion emerged as the dominant player in Kenya’s smartphone market in the first quarter of 2019 with over 40% share while the Tecno brand captured the top spot, according to the latest research from Counterpoint Market Pulse Service. Tecno’s popularity was due to its faster refresh cycles and various promotional offers to attract young customers. Further, itel and Infinix also grabbed consumer attention due to their low-cost offerings.
Looking at the competitive landscape in Kenya, Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, said, “Like Nigeria, the Transsion Group dominates the smartphone segment in Kenya with its affordable product line and promotions and discount offers. Further, Transsion brands are capturing the market in different price segments. While itel led the sub-US$50 price band, Tecno maintained its lead overall as well as in the US$100-US$200 price band. Going forward, we estimate there is going to be increased competition in the country due to the increasing share of other Chinese players (Huawei, Xiaomi and OPPO). Brands which have good marketing presence, deep distribution network, and launch handsets addressing local needs like affordability emerge out as winners in the hyper-competitive African market.”
(TOP: Various variants of the TECNO SPARK 3. Photo: TECNO Mobile Kenya).
In Kenya, the sub-US$100 segment contributes to the highest volume (69%) and value (44%). More than 50% of the population lives below the national poverty line, with 40% living on less than US$2 a day.
Commenting on the overall market, Anshika Jain, Research Analyst said, “The entry-level segment dominates the Kenyan smartphone market. This is mainly because of first-time users and the low purchasing power of consumers. In Kenya, consumers make purchase decisions based on pricing rather than features like longer battery life, connection to social media, and online browsing. Though the availability of low-cost smartphones is increasing in the region, affordability still remains a key issue for wide-scale smartphone adoption.”
“In the short-term, the focus on affordable smartphones (in >$100 segment), as well as content in the local language, is likely to be the key growth driver for smartphone adoption as less than 20% of the population in Kenya speaks English,” she added.
Kenya Smartphone Market Share Q1 2019
(Source: Counterpoint Research Market Pulse Q1 2019)
- The Kenyan smartphone market declined 2% year-on-year (YoY) and 7% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) in Q1 2019 due to a slowdown in promotion activities post the holiday season.
- The top five brands captured 66% share of the total smartphone market.
- Seven of the top 10 best-selling models are from Transsion Group.
- Tecno captured top position due to its affordable offerings, faster refresh rate, and focus on local needs. It was the first OEM to provide dual SIM handset in the African market.
- Samsung has an aspirational brand perception, but its market share declined QoQ. Its J series is facing tough competition from Chinese players, which provided better specs at lower or similar price points. It is expected that the revamp of A series and introduction of M series in Kenya would help Samsung to gain market share in Q2 2019.
- OPPO has been aggressively marketing and winning mind share in Kenya. There is a tendency of Kenyan consumers to buy a well-known brand in the market.
- Xiaomi and Huawei grew QoQ (albeit from a small base) despite the market decline. Xiaomi’s growth was driven by Redmi Go – the Android Go device, while the Y series drove Huawei’s growth.
- The online channel is becoming popular for smartphone purchase in Kenya. Jumia, one of the major e-commerce platforms, reported 10 times growth in its sales of smartphones in 2018 as compared to 2014.
- There is immense popularity of mobile money platforms like MPESA in Kenya, which is driving financial inclusion and mobile phone adoption.
The Counterpoint Market Pulse is based on sell-through estimates based on retail surveys, vendor polling triangulated supply chain checks and secondary research.