Consumer preferences in the automotive sector vary across East Africa

18 June 2018 3 min. read

A new report from global professional services firm Deloitte has revealed how automotive markets across East Africa have not only developed substantially, but have also evolved to reflect individual priorities by country. For instance, while fuel efficiency is the most important feature of a vehicle amongst consumers in Kenya and Tanzania, it doesn’t even come in the top three priorities for Ugandan consumers.

Hindered by relatively low levels of disposable income, alongside a booming second hand vehicle trade, the automotive market across Africa has been largely dormant over the last few decades, while sales across the rest of the world have seen booms in various geographical pockets.

Nevertheless, economic prosperity is on the rise across the continent, and will continue to be so in the future as the demographic and financial trends in Africa are set to eventually propel it to the centre of the global economy. According to Big Four accounting and advisory firm Deloitte, the time has come to study the automotive market on the continent, and identify the dominant trends.

Consumer preferences and Influencers by type of vehicle

The report examined key markets in East Africa – a region that is significant for its relatively high levels of diversification, as opposed to the rest of the continent that continues to rely heavily on the commodity trade. Specifically, Deloitte zoomed in on the automotive markets of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The study confirmed what many analysts have been saying about the various market on the continent – that the minor cultural variations play a major role in determining market trends. The biggest indication of this from the Deloitte report comes in the form of varying priorities when buying a car.

In Kenya, for instance, most consumers – nearly a third of those surveyed – prioritise fuel efficiency when buying a car, followed by 17% who value safety. Value for money only comes into play after these two considerations, with 13% of the respondents prioritising it when buying a vehicle.

Tanzania consumer preferences

A similar scenario can be observed in Tanzania, although safety does not feature in the top three priorities. 31% of the respondents prioritized fuel efficiency, followed by 24% who feel that ‘price’ is the most important consideration. Once again, value for money was the third highest priority, cited by 16% of the respondents.

Priorities amongst Ugandan consumers are entirely divergent from those in the other two countries. Cited by 20% of the respondents, ‘price’ is the highest priority, followed by ‘reliability & safety’ at 16%, and an entirely new consideration – status – as the third highest priority at 15%. Fuel efficiency, which was the top priority in Kenya and Tanzania, doesn’t feature in the top 3 for Uganda at all.

Uganda consumer preferences

One trend where the three countries converge relates to the biggest source of influence on the decision of which vehicle to purchase. Across Kenya (53 %), Tanzania (50%) and Uganda (40%), ‘family & friends’ exerted the biggest influence on the decision.

The dominant brand in the country was the second largest priority in Kenya and Tanzania, followed by the influence of salespeople in Kenya and advertising in Tanzania. Uganda’s sources of consumer influence are identical to those of Kenya.