Why customer experience is key to Kenyan start-ups

In General

Kenya’s economy is now safely and comfortably running on experience, a latest study done by a renowned travel agency shows.

The Jumia Travel study, among other things, shows that the shift from a product-driven to an experience-centered kind of culture is majorly powered by Millennials in their prime spending years.

“Millennials in Kenya are more likely to buy experiences than commodities, forcing market players to invest in more customer-centric models, ” notes the report released in early November.

To further back it up, the study quotes the findings of the United Nation’s World Travel and Tourism Council (UNWTTC) 2015 report which showed that “leisure spending” in Kenya stood at 67.5 per cent almost double “business spending” at 32.5 per cent.

“No doubt that Kenyans are steadily moving away from ownership to experience.”

At the same time , the Jumia Travel report shows that it is the travel and tourism sector that has witnessed the “experience economy” phenomenon more than any other:

” Travelers now demand for something beyond a travel service, to a memorable experience that will be shared with friends.”

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Besides, it says, travelers are now more than ever searching for user generated activities and local experiences as compared to signing up to already established forms of amusement which are very often described as ‘boring’.

Ms Estelle Verdier, Jumia Travel managing director highlights some other interesting developments in the sector:

Recommendation from friends

“Visitors booking on online portals are increasingly keener on the kind of experience to be sampled on the destination.

For instance, Bed size, in-room entertainment, and room service are somehow less popular on the FAQs, coming only after a ‘personal’ recommendation from previous clients. “

Realising this, says the report , even corporates are beginning to attach much more value to human experience in selling, as evidenced in branding and advertising :

” For them to capture the budgets
allocated to household travel and adventures, commodity companies are fast realising they must move from a product-centric model to embrace a more customer-centric structure that will not only match, but also supersede customer expectations,” explains Ms Verdier.

Era of the customer

The study cites the wide adoption of technology by the tourism and travel industry to have played a major role in promoting the adoption of the experience culture, as it provides a medium for sharing and an interface to relay feedback.

This seems to chime in well a recent South African study which also found that digitally empowered customers have given rise to a new era, the era of the customer.

“This is forcing companies to become customer centric, such that whether your business is B2B or B2C, every business is in fact, person to person,” a report published on Siliconcape notes in part.

Made popular by James Pine and Joseph Gilmores, the “Experience Economy” theory began to gain tremendous fame and support after a 1998 publication in the Harvard Business Review.

In it, the two thinkers keenly observed that as consumers were quickly evolving from the commodity-driven phase, a need for sellers to distinctively separate goods, service, and experience as offerings independent of each other was fast being overtaken by the need to put them together into a wholesome, unforgettable experience.

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