4 Easy & Economical Ways To Do Market Research For Your Product in Kenya

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.

Test your products with family and friends

Test your products with family and friends

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.

Giving samples at the Cake Festival (Image: Cookswell Jikos)

Giving samples at the Cake Festival (Image: Cookswell Jikos)

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.

Get honest feedback on your business from customers

Get honest feedback on your business from customers

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.

4 Reasons Why You Should Select A Target Market For Your Business

Before you start a business, you should write a business plan. A part of the business plan includes selecting a target market for your product or service. I have recently noticed that a lot of small business owners in Kenya, especially the youth, don’t have business plans. A lot of them don’t even have or really know who their target market consists of. Today I will state a few reasons why any business person in Kenya should select a target market or audience. By selecting a target market you are able to work on giving the best service or product quality to your customers and save money spent on advertising to the wrong people. Selecting a target market has helped me in my business especially when my marketing budget is very small or sometimes, almost non-existent.

1. You cannot satisfy everyone out there, it’s not possible
As much as a business owner, you would like to sell to everyone, you can’t. People are different and they have different habits, likes, dislikes etc. Therefore, the most logical thing is to find out what problem you are solving in your business, and then identify what kind of people are looking to solve the same problems in their lives and sell them your product or service. When you do that, you are able to create a marketing strategy that appeals and attracts your target market/audience. Which means you are in turn able to engage with them and make a sale.

Select a target customer

Select a target customer

2. To create marketing that appeals to your customers
These days the majority of business owners have discovered that they have to attract potential customers by providing helpful content and engaging with them. This is called inbound marketing. In order for inbound marketing to be effective, you have to create marketing that will attract your target audience – marketing that they will love. To create content that your audience will love, you have to know some characteristics about them. When you do, you will be able to create content that will help them in their lives, content that will appeal to them emotionally and lead them to engage with your business or brand. For any of that to be effective, you have to know your target and their likes and dislikes.

Create loveable marketing!

Create loveable marketing!

3. You will create a marketing strategy that is within your budget
If you are a small business or want to start a small business, your marketing budget will be smaller to start with. You should make sure you allocate money to your marketing budget; no matter how little it is to start with. You can then gradually work on creating a larger budget because marketing will always be very important for your business’ success. When you identify who your target market is, you are able to concentrate your marketing in the correct mediums that your audience uses. This saves you money and time that you may have spent on the wrong mediums or numerous ways of trying to attract anyone out there.

Stay within your marketing budget

Stay within your marketing budget

4. You will improve your product and/or service and therefore better serve your customers
By targeting a specific market, you are able to create a better product and service for your customers. As you engage with your target market, you will gain better insight on their needs and improve your product or service to fit them. You can also be able to create other products or supporting services to continue serving your customers. This will also open up another revenue stream for your business which is a good thing in the long run.

If you have a small business, especially in Kenya and you have not selected or identified your target market. I urge you to please sit down and figure it out today. It is imperative for your business’ success and in order for you to have happy, satisfied customers as well. If you have any questions on the topic please let me know.

These are just a few reasons why you should select a target market, if you have some other helpful reasons that you have discovered in your small business experience – please feel free to share below.  

5 Ways to Improve your business’ Customer service in Kenya

I had written a post a while back on why businesses in Kenya should improve their customer services in Kenya. So I decided to write another post on customer service; this time the focus will be on some ways to improve customer service. These are a few ways that I work on customer service in my Bakery business and they are effective methods. Customer service is always a process you should constantly be improving and innovating. These five ways are good ways to get started.

1. Get feedback from your customers/clients soon after purchase of products or services.

When your customer purchases a product from you, or after you provide a service for them; make sure you contact them 2 to 5 days later. Get feedback from them on what they thought of the product or service and if they have any suggestions on how your business can improve both in product and service delivery. This will help you to perfect your product and services over a period of time and offer them more effectively and with better quality. If there are any complaints, you will be able to respond to the situation and remedy it effectively. This is better than waiting to hear from your customer, especially to complain. When a product, or service has a problem or is of bad quality, most customers don’t bother to complain to the business, they just never return and you lose a customer for life. Make sure you keep a record of your customers and their suggestions or complaints; this makes it easier to review customer opinions on your products or services and work on their quality.

Get feedback from your customers ^_^

Get feedback from your customers ^_^

2. Offer extra services that bring convenience to your customers, they will remember your business/brand

In order to create brand loyalty, to keep your customers loyal to you; you have to make sure your business is memorable to your customers. A great way of achieving that is offering extra services that will offer convenience to your customers. Examples are; offering delivery of your products to your customers in your business area or offering extra content/information to your customers in form of pamphlets, brochures or booklets when products or services are delivered. You can also offer gift wrapping services for their loved ones, or message cards with deliveries. Find extra services or actions to do in order to cultivate brand loyalty, this will keep customers coming back to you, which is great for your business sales ^_^!

3. Respond to all your customer complaints by keeping track of all customer platforms 

Customers can purchase products or services from you and if they have a complaint, different customers may choose different ways to communicate their displeasure. If a complaint is received via phone e.g. text or call, make sure you respond immediately to the complaint and address it at once. Some customers may choose to post their complaints on your social media sites e.g. Facebook or Twitter pages. If the post is public, respond to the post in a professional way and then resolve the matter privately with the customer (e.g. move the conversation to the inbox or direct message, this makes sure the issue does not escalate publicly). If the customer complains on social media, but privately, try as much as possible to contact the person – text or call, and resolve the matter as efficiently as possible. I have had customers who have complained and when I responded efficiently, they have become loyal customers due to the way in which their complaint was handled. When you listen to your customer’s complaint and respond to it, the person feels important and he/she feels glad that you responded to their issue. This will create a lasting positive impression on your customer and that feeling will be associated with your brand/business.

Handle customer complaints effectively

Handle customer complaints effectively

4. Create a Customer loyalty program to reward your loyal customers

If you’re able to, create a simple rewards program to show appreciation to your loyal customers. If you’ve been running your start-up for over a year or more and you have customers who have been with you and supporting your business for that length of time, it’s good to find a way to reward their loyalty. You can create a simple rewards program in which you can award points on their purchases and reward them after they achieve certain point levels with free products or large discounts on your products or services. This will motivate your customers to keep purchasing from your business, knowing that they can redeem free or highly discounted products or services from you over time. Make sure you plan well and execute the program effectively, this will increase your sales from your loyal customers which are shown to be quite high in the long run.

Create a rewards program for your customers

Create a rewards program for your customers

5. Always appreciate your customers

In business, your goal should always be to create loyalty to your brand or business. So for all those customers who come back, make sure you show them appreciation. You can do this in many different ways; you can offer discounts on social media sites (e.g. Facebook or Twitter) and your website. You can offer monthly or weekly discounts or promotions. You can also go an extra mile for a frequent customer. A great example is for our bakery deliveries, we don’t operate on Sundays but for loyal customers, we make exceptions and deliver on Sunday if the customer really requires the product or service on that day. If your business is a shop that delivers flowers, you can offer to write message notes to the flower recipients as a free service. You can also offer to add a bow on the bouquet for free for your loyal customers. There are many simple ways of appreciating your customers, make sure it’s an action that will be helpful to your customers and will create a lasting impression to them. This is how you build brand loyalty.

Go the extra mile for your customers ^_^

Go the extra mile for your customers ^_^

These are a few ways in which you can start improving your customer service for your business. Remember that is costs ten times more to gain a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Want to make customers happy

If you have any more suggestions on how to improve customer service in a small business, please feel free to share below.