Bright and early on the appointed Saturday, five women, all part of the same chama, gather at the
parking lot of a popular supermarket. Well, ‘popular’ is relative as Janice was wildly opposed to the
choice of supermarket, claiming they never have her favourite brand of facial cleanser and when they
do, it is more expensive than at other stores. Nonetheless, the majority had their way and she obliged to
shop at this supermarket. Jane, is also mildly opposed to the choice of supermarket because the aisles
are too narrow, parking spaces too squeezed and like Janice, many of her favourite brands are rarely
stocked here. She nonetheless obliges.

They charge into the supermarket determined to be in and out in an hour; besides as mothers, they
knew perfectly well what a new mother would need, right? The first stop is the ‘Dry Foods’ aisle and as
the ordinary Kenyan shopping list this entails unga ya ugali (maize meal), rice, ngano (wheat flour),
ndengu (green grams), uji (porridge), sugar, spaghetti and beans. What should have taken eight minutes
(at the rate of one minute per item) took 30 minutes! Each brand selected by one elicited approval or
disapproval in equal measure from another. The reasons were as varied as the number of brands; ‘ I
grew up using this brand and have never found reason to change. Once I like a brand, that’s it!’, ‘Brand X
is better value for money’, ‘Brand Y stays fresher for longer,’ and on and on. This scenario replicates
itself in each aisle the women go through. What should have taken an hour takes two!

At the Till, for ease of payment, one of them offers to run her card and the others would send their
contributions to her. She pulls out her card to the shock of one of others who couldn’t hide her
disapproval. ‘Why do you bank with them?’, she asks undeniably disgusted. And once again, with every
beep of the till came an argument for or against the said bank. Apparently each of the five women
banked with five different banks for one reason or other. This debate catches the attention of two other
women at the Till, which is no surprise; on any given day, there will be more women in a supermarket
than men because women influence over 85% of global consumer decision making. In fact so influential
are women in the economy, that they are the world’s largest emerging market accounting for nearly
USD12 trillion of the USD 18 trillion in consumer spending. As main caregivers and homemakers,
women control household budgets and domestic spending – they decide what products earn a spot in
the pantry.

Some strategic drivers for brands to survive especially in the post Covid era, include the need for brands
to differentiate themselves for consumers rather than from the competition. Another important driver is
that their communication should seek to educate their consumers rather than simply to promote the
product, and that all initiatives should be anchored on empathy and social responsibility. However, the
most important consideration to push sales, enhance brand affinity and loyalty and subsequently
improve the bottom-line is when brands strive to occupy a specific place of value in the hearts and
minds of its biggest market – WOMEN!


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