If you want to start a new business in Kenya or you already have a small start-up business in Kenya, it is important to always do market research. If you want to introduce your new product or service to the Kenyan market; you should do some local market research to establish whether your product or service is in demand and whether people will be satisfied with it or they don’t particularly like it.
As a small business start-up in Kenya, you most probably have a small marketing budget to work with; however, that does not mean that you should ignore market research entirely. The trick is to find an easier, more budget-friendly way of doing it. It is not wise to ignore market research in any aspect of your product or service; I have personally learned this the hard way. When I started my bakery business two years ago; I actually tested my baked products many months before I opened it officially. I would bake using my recipes and give my work colleagues, friends and family my baked products to taste and give me their honest feedback on what my products tasted like. When I opened officially, I didn’t stop testing and getting feedback from all my new customers. I even gave incentives for some free items for feedback on social media and other platforms. I was able to actually perfect my recipes through the feedback that I got from my online customers in Nairobi who were my target market.
On the negative side; when I expanded my bakery to an outside location (I’m currently home-based, we deliver to our customers), I focused on set up and stocking, but didn’t do any research for my products in the area where I was starting the shop. I just assumed that the same products would work for that local area. I however found out the hard way that it wasn’t the case. I had to adjust my menu and meet local demand as I was struggling to balance the new store and get it running profitably. I managed to meet half the demand to those local customers; but I wish that I had been more prepared and done some research before starting. So as a person who has suffered failure by not doing any market research; I urge you not to make the same mistake. If you want to start up a small business or want to launch a new product or service for your small business in Kenya; please ensure you do market research – no matter how simple. I have four easy and economical ways that you can do it to start with, if your budget is small. I guarantee they will be of great help to you and your small business in Kenya.
1. Test your product or service on your family, friends and neighbors
Whether your business will be offering a product or service; it’s best to start testing with people close to you. Create your product and then offer your family, friends and neighbors the product; you can start by giving it for free as a sample to try out then offer it at a price the next time. Depending on whether you are still in the creation stage of the product, you can offer the price at a discounted rate or you can offer at market price. This will give you a good idea of the product or service quality and whether you should improve it or not.
2. Test it at Trade shows or Field Exhibition Days in your target location
Most areas in Kenya have agricultural field days and various trade shows that occur in different industries. Some are new kinds of exhibitions looking for all types of small businesses to display their products or services and some actually target small business in specific industries. Even the local city council hosts some of the small exhibitions that run for two to five days where they invite local small businesses. Ensure that you are active in your area or know someone who has information on such fairs or trade shows. They are especially helpful if you are in the agri-business or value addition industry. You can also contact your local MCA (County Rep or Member of County Assembly) for information on such activities. You can either give free samples or sell your products and give incentives for people to either give feedback at a later date for a free or discounted item. You can also ask for the customers to sample your products there and give instant feedback as well. I personally found these avenues great for feedback when I first started my bakery.
3. Run contests or online giveaways and request for feedback from contest winners
This is another easy way of either testing your existing product or a new product you would like to introduce in your menu. You can run contests on social media platforms or your business location and give away a product or service as a prize. After the contest winners receives their prizes, request for honest and extensive feedback on the product or service. This is another method I have found effective not only for feedback but for attracting potential customers in the future.
4. Get honest feedback from your new customers the first three months of starting your new business
After starting your new business officially, make sure you request feedback from every new customer; record and review it weekly for any product or service adjustments. You will be able to track the response on your new products and business for those three months and make any adjustments necessary. You will also find that your customers will be happy to know you’re interested in their satisfaction and you’ll build brand loyalty from them.
Those are a few easy ways of conducting market research for your small business in Kenya. They are helpful and effective; any start-up entrepreneur in Kenya should never ignore the importance of market research, it could be detrimental for you small business.
If you have any other suggestions on other ways to conduct market research on a budget, please feel free to comment below, thanks ^_^
Remember to work hard and work smart.