Capital FM (Nairobi)

10 July 2014

Kenya's Luxury Market an Untapped Resource

Nairobi — With the growth of the middle class and population of high net worth individuals in the country, opportunities for the luxury market are set to be on the rise.

New World Wealth Report 2014 statistics reports that the market generated Sh17.2 billion in 2013 derived from the sale of high end clothing, accessories, cars as well as hotels.

Luxury Consultant Maryanne Maina says the market is an untapped goldmine pointing out that the market is set to grow significantly in the coming years.

"There are a lot of opportunities in the luxury market, more Kenyans are becoming brand oriented, more international companies are setting base in the country, the economic power for the middle class is growing," Maina told Capital Business.

She explained among the opportunities in the market include personal shopping services, luxury stores in hotels and airports as well as consulting services.

"There are many Kenyans who want to go and shop in Paris, Dubai but don't have the time, others have got the money to spend but don't know how to go about buying luxury goods - what works for them, what's trendy."

"We need luxury stores in hotels, malls and our airports to cater for the tourists who are keen on luxury, as well as businessmen who visit the country for business, I haven't seen a proper luxury store in the hotels and the airport yet," Maina says.

She says Kenyan manufactures, and craftsmen only tend to produce products that suit the average person, forgetting the high end market.

"Luxury is about an art, it's about quality and it's an experience people are willing to spend on. What I see with most Kenyan entrepreneurs is that they tend to copy each other, producers need to be creative and think outside the box, create a brand for the high end market the results are enormous," she explained.

She says Kenyans think more about the returns than the quality of the product and service to customers.

"Luxury business has huge margins which make it attractive for investors; we have seen brands like Chanel doubling their prices in the last decade. Luxury must be comfortable, it's not about the price, it's about the craft, it's about the product, the service the product gives you, that's what people pay for," she said.

She urged producers to think of the international market when crafting their products.

"Craft your product in such a way that it excites the international market that they can travel to the country just to purchase that product," she said.

Kenyan brands are yet to hit the luxury international market, with the country only known for the Maasai brand that is used by over 80 international companies.

The wazawazi bag brand, founded in 2012, is also set to hit the International market. The bags are made from leather and sometimes native African fabrics, like Kitenge.

The country's breath taking sceneries, a magnificent range of captivating wild animals, an array of culture, has seen Luxury hotels keen in the Kenyan market with a number of hotels in the last five years that include Villa Rosa Kempinski, Mahali Mazuri Luxury camp, Hemingways, Olare Mara among others.

The country's real estate is also keen on the luxury market, with developments like Mandharini development located in the coast, Thika Green Golf Course Estate, and Tatu City among others.

Brand stores like Armani, Burberry, Gucci, Zegna and Hugo Boss are yet to set up shop in the country.

The New World Wealth Report 2014 shows that the wealth per person in Kenya increased by 89 percent since the turn of the millennium.

Kenya is also reported to have had 8,300 millionaires in 2013 against 6,700 in 2007, a growth rate of 24 percent, ranking the fourth in Africa in creating dollar millionaires faster.

The report defines millionaires as those with net assets worth $1 million (Sh87 million) or more, excluding the value of their primary residences.

The survey includes only those countries that had over 800 millionaires in 2013.

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