COVID-19 unlocks growth opportunities for e-commerce in Kenya

The COVID-19 pandemic has unlocked the growth of e-commerce opportunities, with millions of consumers preferring to shop online. This is according to a recent global survey conducted by MARCO, the Madrid-based communications agency. Dubbed “MARCO Survey: Post-COVID-19 Consumption Behaviour II”, the survey – conducted from May to June – covers more countries and is a sequel to “MARCO Research: Post Covid Consumer Behaviour” carried out in April to May.

In Africa, the survey was conducted in Kenya, South Africa, Morocco and Ivory Coast. Kenya is notably on the cusp of an e-commerce revolution, with 99% of the surveyed consumers saying they prefer buying online and will continue to do so post-Covid. The survey also reveals that 58% of the Kenyan consumers started buying more online when the pandemic struck, while 76% of their British counterparts did the same. Clothing and fashion (56%), show tickets (54%), and travel (52%) are the leading products purchased online more than from physical stores.

E-commerce, also known as electronic commerce, allows businesses and consumers to make online purchases. Many businesses and consumers find e-commerce to be more efficient than brick-and-mortar stores. Businesses save on costs, and customers can select from a wide variety of product choices and shop from anywhere in the world, at any time of day.

Didier Lagae, founder and CEO of MARCO, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in the growing use of e-commerce services by small firms to sell their products, and this may become central to the growth-led prospects of Africa. Besides helping the firms gain access to a larger market, e-commerce platforms also help build consumer trust and ultimately create branding through customer ratings of sellers and strategies such as liberal product return policies.”

According to the survey, television and digital media are the most effective means of influencing consumers. TV advertising takes the lead with 64%, and both online advertising and online articles with 51% being the channels that have the greatest influence on Kenyans when it comes to choosing one brand over another. This contrasts sharply with consumers in the UK, where only 38% and 33% of respondents were influenced by TV and online advertising respectively when choosing one brand over another.

The survey also reveals that at 37%, adverts on public transport and recommendations from influencers are the channels that connect the least with the average Kenyan consumer. However, recommendation from influencers is a great determinant in the preference of one brand over another, with 84% of Kenyans having bought something based on the recommendation of an influencer. This is not the case with the UK, where only 41% of respondents bought a product following the recommendation of an influencer.

A curious finding was that even with the increase in cybercrime, people do not mind sharing their personal data in exchange for some goodies. According to the survey, 68% and 64% of the British and Kenyan consumers respectively were willing to share their personal data in return for something for free.

It is also noteworthy that the pandemic has not changed the taste and demand of Kenyans when it comes to the purchase of second-hand products, with 50% of the respondents reporting buying more second-hand products than before the pandemic.

Linda Weaver, Chief Operations Officer, ACG MARCO, said: “Going forward post-pandemic, the change in customer and merchant behaviour during the pandemic is likely to stay, with an increasing number of people adopting e-commerce and becoming more aware of brands as we approach the Christmas festivities.”

More businesses have decided to open up online shops, and it is expected that e-commerce in Kenya will further accelerate and grow. According to Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, Kenya has one of the most vibrant e-commerce ecosystems in Africa and has shown steady growth. Revenue in the Kenyan e-commerce market is expected to result in an approximated market volume of $2 billion by 2024.

Online sales allow businesses to reach more customers, both at home and abroad. New jobs are also created in supporting sectors such as technology companies, payment service providers such as Visa, and logistics companies. The convenience of 24-hour online shopping and home delivery, combined with much greater product choice, is likely to become increasingly valuable to customers everywhere.

MARCO is a global independent agency based in Madrid, Spain. It specialises in branding and reputation building. Formed by a team of approximately 200 consultants, it has its own offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, Paris, Brussels, Milan, Berlin, Miami, Mexico City, Bogotá, Lima, São Paulo, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Abidjan and Nairobi, as well as affiliated MSL offices in more than 100 markets. In 2020, the agency was recognised as the best communications consultancy in Southern Europe by the SABRE Awards, after having received the award for Best Iberia Consultancy of the Year in 2019. The agency was also awarded the European Agency of the Year at the European Excellence Awards in 2017. The latest campaigns carried out in brand building by MARCO, for clients such as Audible, Kraft Heinz Orlando and Friends of Glass, among others, have won more than 20 awards in the last two years.


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