By Michelle Anzaya

Kenyan mobile payment brand M-Pesa has for the fifth year been voted Kenya’s leading superbrand, ahead of parent company Safaricom, which placed second.

This further solidifies the platform’s positioning as being integral and essential to the functioning of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This comes at a time when global economic downturn is filtering through to the Kenyan economy.

In this survey, six new brands made an entry into the top 20 for the first time, compared to the previous 2020 listing.

These include: Jik, Darling, Beyond Fruits, Nescafe, St John’s Ambulance and Kenya Airways.  The results are derived entirely from a comprehensive survey administered to urban Kenyan consumers (selected at random) and undertaken by Kantar TNS in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

Consumers across different purchasing classes  have had to opt for for more affordable brands because of budget constraints. Low-value brands are now no longer solely for the mass market and are much more visible to even the middle-class consumer.

With increased adoption of e-commerce through out the Covid-19 era, consumers  are now increasingly researching about products before they make their purchase decisions. Some consumers are starting to place emphasis on differentiation, and punishing brands that are more premium or value, but not differentiated from the low-priced mainstream brands.

Consumers state that innovation is needed in how brands present themselves to stand out and be considered superior to their competitors.

With difficult economic times, some brands cease to be as relevant as they were. Consumers no longer have the luxury of spending disposable incomes on betting for instance. This year no betting companies feature in the top 20 ranking. Whilst in 2020 Betika appeared as #10.

Other notable shifts are for brands playing in the hygiene and medical space (two critical categories/industries in the Covid era) e.g. Jik is up from rank 36 in 2020 to 3, St. Johns Ambulance from rank 51 in 2020 to 19, and Dettol up from rank 9 in 2020 to 6.

Kenpoly went up from rank 17 to 5. Kenpoly makes disposable cups, which were common at informal social meet-ups for quick consumption of alcohol and other beverages.

Not having the luxury to go out and grab fast foods or a quick coffee, and instead order in or prepare alternatives from home has pushed brands like Nescafe from rank 116 in 2020 to 16 and Jumia Foods from nowhere in 2020 to rank 18.

“We continue to see that the Kenyan consumer is a savvy decision-maker. They want brands to deliver value and purpose. This is reflected in the survey with 85% of respondents associating the Superbrands seal as a mark of quality and reliability,” said Jawad Jaffer, Project Manager, Superbrands East Africa.

Most notably for 2022, consumers were asked about the impact the Superbrands seal had on their decision making process. 8 out of 10 respondents were more likely to go with a brand that featured the seal. Consumers believed Superbrands affiliation to help build a company’s reputation and help them stand out from the competition.

“With the middle-class consumer now experiencing brands across different price points in search of low-cost, higher value alternatives they are better informed and more selective. This now places them in a better position to truly decide which brands they believe are Superbrands across the different categories. The Kenyan consumer of today wants innovation and functionality,” observed Kantar Associate Account Director, David Ogara.

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