•Health concerns now play a major role in a product's sale with buyers keen on ingredients
•The government must ensure goods with dubious origin do not enter the Kenyan market
Gone are the days when production of various goods solely focused on certain functional and aesthetic qualities. Today's, consumers look beyond price and traditional factors like tastes and preferences. Factors like safety, health, and transparency are increasingly shaping consumer behavior and purchase decisions.
Today’s consumer has more access to product information through modern communication platforms like social media. They also have a powerful voice and have assumed a greater control over conversations on goods and brands. They are demanding more answers on how products affect their health and lifestyles.
These are the new trends that manufacturers have to pay attention to for sustainability. Producers of consumer goods, cannot ignore the emerging reality around consumer value. Price alone is not enough, meeting consumer expectations is now the dominant paradigm.
Economist Klaus Schwab in his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, notes that manufacturers are adopting more efficient and technologically advanced processes that ensure goods are produced faster thus enabling businesses maximise customer value and profitability.
But even that being the case, consumers are demanding more in terms of value and information on products. A report by consulting firm Deloitte titled Capitalizing on the shifting consumer food value equation notes that factors like health, safety, trust and transparency go hand-in-hand with price, taste and preferences in influencing consumer choices.
Consumers are becoming more health conscious and expect businesses to be more transparent about product attributes like nutritional content and ingredients.
Buyers are also keen on ensuring products do not contain harmful substances or ingredients.
There are growing concerns on the rising cases of obesity and non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and the link to food/diet.
In today’s digital world, it is virtually impossible to conceal material information about the health and safety of a product. Doing so attracts consumer backlash and severely damages brand reputation.
In developed markets, environmental considerations now plays a major role in influencing consumer choices.
Manufacturers must therefore focus on the consumer and not just the product. This is where the commercial and production functions of manufacturing intersect.
The government on the other hand should ensure that products whose origin and ingredients are dubious do not get into the market. This not only makes the local manufacturing industry more competitive but also protects consumers from harmful products sold by unscrupulous traders.
Certification by credible third parties like the Kenya Bureau of Standards should also be strictly enforced before goods are allowed into the local market. Consumers should be sensitised on the need to buy only products that meet quality, health and safety standards.
By making local manufacturing more consumer-driven, we will be enhancing its competitiveness from a global perspective.
Moreover, this will accelerate the government’s Big 4 Agenda for job creation through a competitive manufacturing sector.
Malde is the Commercial Director at Pwani Oil