Business Beat: Splashing millions to woo young shoppers

Further, to connect the young generation to its brands, it runs a Sh3.3 million scholarship programme for the top five performers from vulnerable families that deliver coffee. The initiative is currently available in eight coffee farming communities in Central and Eastern Kenya.PHOTO: COURTESY

“Nestlé Kenya has recognised the contribution of the youth to the economy and market. For example, the Nescafé brand is focused on engaging with the youth by connecting with them through the channels that they use most,” said Ciru Miring’u, Nestlé’s head of operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

In May, through its coffee brand, Zoégas, Nestlé Kenya reached out to third and fourth-year female students pursuing degrees in art and design to create Christmas edition packaging.

“Zoégas is focusing on female students because of its determination to strengthen female coffee farmers and secure the future of the product,” the firm said.

Brand loyalty

Further, to connect the young generation to its brands, it runs a Sh3.3 million scholarship programme for the top five performers from vulnerable families that deliver coffee. The initiative is currently available in eight coffee farming communities in Central and Eastern Kenya.

The company also runs a Sh5 million Milo sponsorship for the national finals of the Kenya Primary Schools Ball Games and Gymnastics. The sponsorship is now its eighth year.

Kenya’s largest milk processor, Brookside Dairy Ltd, organises annual Maths contests, dubbed the Brookside Mathlete, to reach Generation Zers.

The contest is open to high school students, with the best contestants getting university sponsorship.

But even as firms spend millions of shillings to reach out to the young generation, Munyoki notes that brand loyalty has dropped, since most youth tend to compare brand prices and quality before making purchases.

“Loyalty is dying very fast. People are no longer committed to one brand, since switching-costs have become lower. Information is easily accessible, making it hard for a brand to cheat customers,” he said.

Civic Science, a market intelligence firm, concurs that young shoppers are more likely to put price and quality before brand loyalty.

Even for brands that command market share, Munyoki warned that they should not get comfortable with the idea of “my customer”, as the youth can switch brands just to satisfy their curiosity. Companies that fail to modify their products to fit the needs of the young generation will not survive long, he added.

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