Across the continent, school bells are ringing and students are heading back to the classroom this month. For students, the holidays were not long enough and for parents, back-to-school shopping means finding the best deals for books, supplies as well ensuring kids are well fed before, during and after school.

Back in January, urban dwellers from seven countries told us that their kids' education is amongst their top priorities for 2017 and that education should be amongst the top priorities of their respective governments. For parents and students, getting ready for school brings with its load of pressure and demands.

Our 2017 back-to-school survey of 3,296 urban dwellers from seven countries (Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania) reveals that 55 percent of people impacted by back-to-school (either because they have kids or because they are students) will spend more this year for tuition fees, books, supplies and other items compared to last year.

Amongst the items people will spend more on this year, we have tuition fees on top with 44 percent of respondents expecting to pay more in fees followed by clothing and supplies (40 percent) and books (37 percent).

Given these rising costs, parents are looking for deals when shopping for back-to-school. Interestingly, our survey reveals that people are not finding these deals online. In fact, only 8 percent of respondents said online is the best place to find back-to-school deals. When it comes to the best places to find deals, 40 percent of respondents say local stores/libraries, not amazon are the best place to find deals on books. For clothing, 34 percent of people say street markets are the best place to find deals, far ahead of online. This finding shouldn't come as a surprise and confirm that shopping is still local and offline in countries where informal economies are still dominant.

Despite the rising costs, parents want their kids to eating well and healthy. There is a good reason for it. 60 percent of people surveyed agree that eating healthy has a positive impact on school performance and for 68 percent of the respondents, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Parents and students also understand that there are safety and health issues with food and therefore, prefer to eat at home rather than at school or on the street. Our research shows that 60 percent of the students will eat breakfast at home but a small percentage 13 percent of students will still eat at school.

When it comes to what to eat for breakfast, parents and students prefer a mix of African food and Western type food with a slight preference for western style menus (cereals, yogurt). 34 percent of respondents say they usually have western style breakfast while 30 percent say they usually have African style breakfast. Again budget constraints mean that parents and students alternate between African and western style menus and ingredients. On average, people will consume western style breakfast 1 to 2 times a week and African style breakfast 3-4 times. Note that the essential items like milk and bread are part of the dailybreakfast. Interestingly, there seems to be a component of the breakfast menus that is authentic and very local. For example, when asked about what else they eat for breakfast, waakye, an authentic and very local dish in Ghana comes ahead.

Finally, parents and students are willing to spend more to get safer and healthier food. Across the urban centers we’ve surveyed, 57 percent of people are ready to pay more to get healthy for themselves and their kids.

So what does this mean for marketers and consumer goods companies? While back-to-school season is associated with shopping for school items (books, suppliers, and clothing), it is also the time when parents and students pay extra attention to what and where they eat, especially for breakfast. Retailers and manufacturers can help by reminding consumers of both the health benefits and local flavor of their breakfast products.

Interested in learning more?

  • Find out each country specific trends and insights

  • How can retailers leverage country specific findings?

  • Where is the western-style breakfast the most and least popular?

  • Where is the African-style breakfast the most and least popular?

  • What are some of the creative breakfast ideas retailers can come up with?


  • KASI Insight two-week survey, 2017 priorities of urban dwellers in Africa, January 2017

  • KASI Insight two-week survey, Back-to-school, August 2017

  • KASI Insight two-week survey, Health and wellness, February 2017

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