Understanding the consumer is an important part of a lot of businesses.

Boniface is a director at SBO Research, a Market Research company that has been in business in Kenya since the mid-nineties.

After finding them on Google I went in for a chat and we spoke about his perspective of the market.

We discuss the change in political conditions that brought about the growth in market research industry, how drones are assisting researchers and whether an insurance policy will pay out if an eagle eats a chicken.

Here are some of the key quotes:

“We started in 1993”

Our first job was doing surveying for Standard Chartered. We now serve over 50 clients per year.

“Understanding market gaps is the main value”

Clients come to us to get insights into the Kenyan market and whether their product/ service will fit.

“FMCG companies are common clients”

Companies with many employees are serving many customers and therefore want to employ services in order to best understand them.

“Government is our biggest customer”

They spend a lot on surveys to understand citizen satisfaction for the public services that are being offered. Often this is for commercial projects (like providing electricity) where there is private sector competition.

“We use mobiles to conduct surveys”

Agents talk to people, typically in their home, and record the responses that come from the survey.

“They chat on Whatsapp before”

When conducting focus groups, the client doing the research has the chance to communicate with everyone in a Whatsapp group to cover the basics beforehand.

“‘If an eagle eats my chicken, will I get paid?'”

Boni was doing a focus group for a new micro-insurance company and this was a pressing question one of the farmers had. Turns out that as eagles are wildlife and belongs to the government, the insurance company won’t pay out as its the government’s remit…

“Historically there would be only one brand”

The government had a regime where there was, say, only one type of cooking oil. As such, there’s no need for market research, because that is the market. Markets were liberalised in 1992, SBO Research was began the following year.

“Our clients are international”

But our insights come from Africa. Typically a multi-national corporation looking to introduce a new product line.

“Insights from inventory”

We track stock levels for different shop owners, in doing so we are able to deduce the market share that different products have.

“Technology will be the game changer”

Competition is coming from non-typical sources, such as Facebook and other telcos. We’re also seeing drones being used to observe how consumers interact with a product.

“We’ll want to hire more researchers”

As the industry grows this is one of the skills that we will want to get into SBO Research as we grow. The skills are scarce though, so good researchers bounce around.

“Bottom of the Pyramid consumers need to be approached differently”

This is a paper that Boni wrote. The typical consumer thinks differently to the ‘elite’ customer.

“My cleaner tells me what to buy”

If you advertise to Boni what cleaning product to buy, I won’t know what it is. If the cleaning product is targeted to my cleaner however, then she will build loyalty and tell me what I need to buy. Cleaning product companies should therefore target the BOP customers rather than “elite” customers.

Social Media Follows etc.

Net Promoter Score

Understanding the African consumer paper

Website: www.sboresearch.co.ke

Other articles: from Business Daily