Updated: Sep 11
KASI Insight research paper titled: Building mobile apps that impact African consumers won the "Best research paper" award at the Marketing & Social Research Association annual conference held in Nairobi today. The team is very proud and honored by this achievement awarded by a panel of experienced researchers and marketers.
Here is a synopsis of the paper:
Research Firm, Informa UK claims that there are more than 4.6 million smartphones in Kenya, a number buoyed by the proliferation of affordable smartphones like Nokia and Huawei phones. Despite the potential market, local app developers are struggling to get their apps downloaded and build profitable businesses in the app economy. For example, one of the most popular apps in Kenya (ma4racer) has 500,000 downloads mostly coming from Asia and North America. Mobile app developers are not to blame because there has been little or no empirical data and market research on mobile users’ attitudes, behavior, and preferences across Africa as a whole. As a developer running a small business on a small budget or as a mobile agency, resources are often limited. The entry barriers are low, but developers face steep competition in app stores. However, that's changing: in one of the first studies of its kind, the KASI insight team surveyed 3079 mobile users in three urban centers in Kenya, Ghana, and Cameroon.
The research focused on gaining an understanding of the mobile ecosystem from a user perspective, especially vis-à-vis locally made apps, and come up with recommendations for mobile app agencies. This simple approach to probe the complex consumer’s mind and gather insights on their perception of local apps was purposely aimed at getting clear answers to important questions:
Are consumers willing to pay for apps built by Africans for Africa?
Are there specific app categories for which local consumers believe African developers have a competitive edge against foreign developers?
Are consumers more concerned about price, quality, and reliability when they use African made apps?
Are “white” labelled foreign apps distributed by African firms the victims of local disregard by consumers?
The survey generated a range of insights, including these findings:
It’s not mobile first and only. Africans, especially in urban dwellers, have many means to connect and have access to a variety of connecting devices.
What is an important feature on a mobile phone varies by location and will change over time as the technology, data cost, or infrastructure changes. Staying abreast of these trends is critical.
For mobile app agencies, understanding how users pay for mobile services and the importance of data is critical to the success of their app.
Given that data is not cheap and networks are not available all the time, understanding the mobile consumer journey in the African context is very important.
Overall, we can identify a distinct mobile user's segmentation (PLAYer, WORKer, TALKer) across all surveyed markets, but segment allocation/proportion differs from one country to another. The insight is in the details.
In addition to challenges related to gathering consumer/mobile user insights to better create relevant and valuable apps, mobile app agencies/developers face other challenges such as their dependence on app store rules and restrictions, lack of payment methods, and the cost to register as a merchant.
Our research has implications for mobile app agencies and marketers who are looking to tap into the massive app economy in Africa. In 2014, app developers earned $17 billion in direct revenue from the two major app stores, and almost twice as much in-app advertising revenue. But behind the big headline and number, the reality for most developers is not that glamourous, even in the developed markets.
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