Skip to main content

Kenyan products: The art of punishing your consumer

This post was written in 2011. Facts may have and indeed have changed - but the conclusion has not. 

Dormans instant coffee tastes better than
Sasini instant coffee. Ramtons electronics
are manufactured for Kenya's Hypermart Limited,
yet maintain a high product quality



Peanut butter used to taste so good, but you could not afford it on the pocket money that you got back in school.

A few years later, you have your first real job and your first "disposable" income. You buy your first real tub of peanut butter, probably the first in your life. You feel proud that Dominion peanut butter is manufactured in Ruiru, a town that you visited in your campus days to withdraw your pocket money, it was the nearest bank ATM to your campus. 

This was before Equity bank became a mainstream bank and decided to open an ATM in your campus, and before M-Pesa meant that you could withdraw your pocket money next to the kibanda where you had your one meal of the day.

The peanut butter though is a far cry from the peanut butter you remember. It does not taste that good, and turns into some sort of stone barely third way through the jar. The stone is not the kind that you learned about in your Geography classes though. 

Dejectedly, you decide not to give up on your quest for a real tub of peanut butter, and off you are, back to the supermarket to try a different tub from a local manufacturer. Again, the experience is the same as above, leaving you to the assumption that peanut butter is a product that cakes. However, you do wonder whether the expensive imported Skippy Peanut butter cakes, but you hold off - money is a limited commodity and there are limits to how lavish one can be.

A pair of Kings Collection bags that I own

A few months later, a relative is back from the United States - a country wrongly referred to as America (who cares?), the same way that people visit "Africa". He keeps talking of the tasty "American Garden" food additives - barbecue sauce, ketchup. Americans and their manufactured food!

A few weeks later, as you are buying Tuskys bread, you notice that the food section spots the American Garden brand. American Garden peanut butter costs quite significantly higher than other brands, but what is a man on the quest of peanut butter got to do?

It does not disappoint, instead, it lives up to the image of the American dream. American Garden peanut butter tantalises the taste buds - Primary and high school reader, please note that and its usage, it will earn you marks in your composition - and unfortunately, it does not cake at all.

If you ever move into the middle class and acquire a taste of one of our key exports, coffee, you will learn that Kenyans can barely make coffee, unless you are in an establishment that caters mostly for tourists.

Sasini manufactures coffee, though the taste is wanting.

Dormans does a good job with their instant coffee which carefully notes that it is "Packed in Kenya".

I have one old shoe brush that is quite firm, though its price sticker is worn out, and I sadly can't tell the manufacturer. Recent attempts at buying shoe brushes branded TeePee and Algai-or-something have led to disappointing products that barely withstand their first tin of shoe polish.

I remember buying the first shoe brush more than three years ago, which I purchased to use on a pair of brown used shoes that I bought from a pair of miraa  chewing Meru-speaking fellows at Githurai  roundabout - a place where pocketing both hands did not guarantee that money inside your trouser pockets would not disappear right under your nose.

The used pair, despite been almost worn out, lasted three years as the sole pair I owned, till a point that I replaced them with the infamous Bata pair that cost me an arm, a leg and had me paying through my nose, simultaneously. I did not know that the guarantee for a shoe that costs 6 times your previous pair was that it would start leaking in less than 6 months.

Bata is not the only local outlet that imports low quality goods. I own two Kings Collection bags that bring out the meaning of threadbare in less than an year. This is even more embarrassing when in the numerous security checks in Nairobi, the guards can comfortably peep into your bag without you opening the zips.

Poor local outlets, they seem not to be in a position to control the quality of their goods, till you purchase a Ramtons electronic.

Ramtons is a Kenyan brand, though the manufacturing is done by the Chinese. Despite its affordability, Ramtons appears to be of good quality. There is an old Ramtons electric jug in the office that boils water every day, without fail. I own a Ramtons jug and iron box - which are still as good as new. Reminds me of an Elekta jug that broke down every few weeks to a point I threw away the jug barely a year into its three year warranty.

I recently met the Managing director of Kenswitch, who advised me that our exchange rates woes were due to huge importation fuelled by a growing middle class and easy availability of loans to fund importation of products.The Central Bank has decided to make loans more expensive, thus making sure if you borrow to import, you would need to sell at a higher price to fewer people and recouping your loan would be difficult. However, that's not the main explanation behind hiked interest rates - I am no economist.

I usually buy new products/brands in a small quantity, to avoid being a victim of manufacturers and retailers who care more about "margins" than brand quality. I punish culprits by not buying their brands, and I do not understand why any one else would fork their hard earned cash for what is essentially stuff whose quality resembles the contents of a sewer.

If Ramtons and Dormans can do it, the rest just have crappy excuses. With newer product lines, quality should be better than established brands with older production lines 


Remember not to punish your customer, your competitor may not be doing that. (At this point, I find that I can't upload pictures from my Sony camera cause Sony product executives think it is a brilliant idea to make sure the memory card and camera only work with a Sony cable or card reader. This mind you is the USB era. Sony meanwhile is firing workers and barely making profits.)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A to Z of Girl Pick-up Lines

Girl,  You are like a breath of fresh air , like an outstanding piece of Art in an art gallery  There are many things you and me can be, but it puts a smile of satisfaction on my face and a smile of envy on my buddies faces that you both beautiful and bootyfull  E ither your creator must have taken the greatest care creating you or your cheated your way around heaven, 'coz you clearly the prettiest girl on earth  D on't ask why my breathing quickens every time I see you; setting my eyes on you makes me feel like I am drowning in your beauty, I have to catch my breath   Exciting, Exotic, Elegant, Electrifying ; so many definitions in english , but when it comes to the human race, girl, you are the one and only definition of all the above  W hen I say you are fly , it may be due to the sensation of flying off the ground that I get when I am around you. Some girls are beautiful, a few are decent, even fewer got class; I didn't know I could find all this qualities in one gir

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

Note: This is a dated post and has since been mostly passed by events. SAB Miller beers including Castle and Peroni are no longer widely available in Kenya after their exist. Sirville Brewery was bought out by Brew Bistro before being permanently shut in a tax dispute. Kenya is a land of milk, honey, beaches and taxes. I have penned, or is typed, a newer post here .  Peroni - One of the best beers in Kenya. Did a taste of canned and bottled Italian, and bottled Tanzanian I like the tangy flavour and body in Tanzanian Peroni. The can is close. Heineken drinkers will like the Italian one.  I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinion of Kenyan beer. Interestingly, over the course of sharing such opinions with other drunkards connoisseurs,  I have found that we all have different views as to what beer is the best, which one makes you too drunk, or which one gives one free, extra hangover for every hangover you get

Nairobi's Top 4 Texas Brisket Places Reviewed and Ranked

Brisket on a bed of roast vegetables with barbecue sauce at Texas Brisket, Kikuyu  This review has been updated after a number of you suggested I try the brisket at County2County.  What's the best place to have Brisket in Nairobi? What's even brisket?  Brisket is one of the toughest cuts in a cow, from around the belly. It is so tough that it has to be smoked for about 16 hours to tenderise. But that there, is the catch.  12 to 16 hours later, it is the most flavourful and softest cut you will ever have. So full of flavour and so soft you can pick it apart with your fingers.  However, due to the long cooking time involved, only a few places offer brisket in Nairobi.  The best so far is Texas Brisket which is located within Kikuyu Railway station.  They do the meat for a proper 16 hours, and will usually have a fatty or non-fatty portion. The fatty portions are more tasty. A 500 gram serving goes for KSh. 900 and a 1 KG order comes with a serving of free fries. Their brisket has

Kenya Power customers suffer from Ksh 0.5 billion faulty prepaid meters

1st Phase Actaris prepaid meters , which work well Kenya Power is a famous company in Kenya, one which draws what my colleagues in media will call "mixed reactions". While those in urban areas such as Nairobi regard Kenya Power as a very unreliable firm, I have heard of villages in rural areas where blackouts go unreported for even 3 days . To the rural people, recent electrification means that at least they get to get electricity for some days, which is better than no electricity. In urban areas, the story is not any different. Around Imara Daima along Mombasa Road, power is mostly reliable, with blackouts been few in a week, and even at times been less than 10 in a month. In other places in the city, blackouts are a daily occurrence, and in some places, the blackouts are more than meals, counting two teas , breakfast, lunch and dinner. Another aspect about Kenya Power is the prepaid meters, which like the firm, are equally loved and hated. Ever since I became prou

Medicines in Kenya: Cure or Poison?

This Drug available at most hospitals here is prescribed under restriction in the United States. The medicine is often prescribed in non-deserving situations in the country. Many of us do not like medicines or visiting health centres, not that we have a choice. When one is sick, they have to visit a health centre. It's at the health centres that one is given medicines, drugs that are expected to cure the ailment. Prevention, we are told, is better than cure. For this reason, some of us will visit the health centres for preventive drugs - maybe we are a malaria prone area and are trying to limit our exposure to it. Looking at the health sector in Kenya, it is far from reaching the health for all status. The country , like many of it's neighbours, faces an acute shortage of doctors. The number has steadily been rising over the years as the government tries to train more doctors to bridge the shortfall. However, bridging the shortfall has been made difficult by many count