Sunday, July 4, 2010

Market Research

Date: Monday June 28 to Sunday July 4
Day 28 to 34

This week we conducted interviews in Oyugis, Kadongo and other surrounding areas to collect some information on the market we are working in. It was great for us to learn more about the buying behaviours and preferences of the market while gathering some very interesting information that can benefit the Mamas. We did a total of 150 interviews throughout the week hiring some of my local friends as translators/research assistants. Each interview took about 30 - 45 minutes and we gave out complimentary packets of yogurt and a thank you flyer with a map of both kitchens to all participants.

Not only were the interviews great for market research but it was also great to create some awareness about Jiko La Jamii dairies, Fiti Yogurt, and probiotics. We had a couple situations where people brought up the free yogurt being given away to people living with HIV/AIDS and how they thought that the yogurt was only for HIV positive people. We were able to create awareness about Fiti Yogurt and educate people on the benefits of probiotics while eliminating any myths and misconceptions. Overall the market research was extremely successful, beneficial, and also very fun!

On Thursday we celebrated Canada Day!!!!!!! The four of us were very spirited, just like last year, and we went all out with red and white, Canadian clothing, and red lipstick on our faces in the shape of maple leafs. As if we didn’t already get enough we had even more :)

Jiko La Jamii Dairies - Western Heads East:
• I set up two potential sales opportunities for the Mamas at two small shops in Mikai (about 20 minutes from Oyugis, 10 minutes from Kadongo) while doing market research there. I discussed the wholesaler selling price and the profits that they would make and inquired about other milk products that they sold. The Mamas would have to discuss transportation including the cost and logistics of everything.
• I saw a woman in the market wearing an Orande Women's Group dress (a dark blue dress that they all have) selling milk from containers just like ours but she was not a Yogurt Mama. I believe she was trying to look like one of our Yogurt Mamas. We are going to brand the aprons very soon so that no one can pretend to be associated with the project when they are not.
• We have started organizing things for the big Music Festival we have planned for July 16th. This involves running around town everywhere to book things and look into the costs of renting a PA system, a stage, chairs, tents, etc. We've been sending around our friends/research assistants to do most of these things so that we don't get overcharged being mzungus.
• On Thursday we had a little "tea party" to bring both groups of Yogurt Mamas (Kadongo and Oyugis) together to discuss the Fiti Yogurt label. We really want them to have a good relationship with each other so that they can work together for their mutual benefit without any conflict. We decided to bring some beads to make necklaces and earrings as a fun activity that the Mamas could all do together. Unfortunately the tension between certain Mamas in the two groups is too much and the tea party was a little awkward and intense at times. I really wish that the Mamas could be professional and work together but I don't think it will ever happen. The main problem is between the leaders of both kitchens.
• As Kinleigh, the Oyugis Mamas, and I walked to the matatu to head to the tea party in Kadongo I tried to come up with some cheer/chant to lift the Mama's moods. When I yelled "FITI!" the Mamas yelled "YOGURT!" It worked out pretty well and this is now our official cheer for both kitchens :) We also sang in the matatu which was fun.
• We did our first lesson plan/business discussion in Oyugis on Sunday and it went pretty well. I think it’s a really great idea that we are having these discussions to exchange knowledge for the Mamas' benefit and for our research. We discussed all record keeping documents and Fiti Yogurt's competitive advantage. We tried very hard to make sure that it was a discussion and not a business lecture from us.

• COMMUNICATION! Communication is key. Communication is everything. We have had a couple problems now related to work with miscommunication. It is so important to tell the Mamas absolutely EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING that you are doing. It is extremely hard to communicate with everyone when we can't speak to certain Mamas and when other leaders in the project are not helping and supporting us.
• It is extremely difficult to get all the Mamas' input on certain things because they all follow the leader(s) in the kitchen and they don't express their own personal opinion. When we asked the Mamas about which packaging label/logo they liked the best the Kadongo Mamas all chose 1 design and the Oyugis Mamas all chose 1 other different design. Out of 7 different sample logos only 2 were chosen by the Mamas. Unfortunately the 2 designs that they chose were completely different from the designs that were most popular from our market research. It was also very difficult to get a discussion going about what they liked and what they didn't like even when we emphasized to them that we were going to mix and match (i.e. choose the best things from each of the 7 samples) and put them all together to create 1 logo.

Most Memorable Moments:
• Eating lunch at a little hotel in the small town of Mikai during the market research interviews. I was so excited when I found out that I was the very first mzungu to eat in the hotel! It was a small wooden shack with a tin roof and a couple wooden tables and chairs. I had chai with mandazi. It was really cool and fun, I loved it!
• Four weeks in and I finally saw this young girl Daisy and her younger brother who I was friends with last year! I was so happy.
• Sitting in the boot of a car with Kinleigh and Emily on the way to Kendu Bay, Lake Victoria for a little Saturday afternoon trip. There were 12 people total in a small Toyota...4 in the front, 4 in the middle, and 4 in the boot (1 man jumped in the boot with us right before we left). It was pretty hilarious, 12 people in a tiny car for about 45 minutes on a very bumpy rocky road. I enjoyed it though, it was fun!
• Playing pool/billiards in Kendu Bay. Pool tables are fairly common here and they are a great source of entertainment for idle men. I played Cliff and Morris (two of my friends), beat them, and then went on to play the manager/owner of the pool table. I was close to winning but unfortunately I lost... if I had won I would have been the best pool player in Kendu Bay :)
• Singing the Shakira "Waka Waka" song with some kids as we went on a walk. A group of kids and I sang it together and it was amazing!

Life in Oyugis
• I'm pretty much in heaven here with all of the kids. There are so many kids EVERYWHERE and they are so cute!
• On Thursday it was the first of the month and I had to witness my favourite little girls next door (Sachbeah, Dierdre/Tracy, and Everlyne) being evicted from their house. A large crowd was gathered in front of their home as the landlord and others emptied their furniture and belongings on the front lawn as everyone watched. It was terrible and I felt sad...I couldn't believe it. All of the other interns had delayed me from leaving the hotel that morning because they had seen it first and they were worried about what my reaction would be. I'm sad that they are no longer outside my window :( I miss the girls and I wish that they didn't have to go.
• Men get very drunk very early in the day. I interviewed one man on Friday and realized that he was drunk after a couple questions in. When I asked "at what time of day do you take yogurt?" he replied "when I'm tipsy", and then when I asked "do you check the expiry date on products?" he replied "I don't care about the expiry date when I'm tipsy'. It was pretty hilarious.

Life in Kenya
• Breastfeeding in public is very common. One woman I interviewed was breastfeeding her child the entire time.
• Although caning is illegal in Kenya it still happens and some parents even encourage teachers to do it. Unfortunately I could hear two young students being whipped by their teacher right behind my back as I was doing interviews at a primary school. I hated being is so terrible. Later my friend told me that when he was in grade school he was whipped for getting a math question wrong.
• I can't stand the way that the majority of managers treat their employees here. The manager at the new hotel next door is terrible. He pays his employees nothing, talks down to them, and treats them very poorly. The staff is so sweet and so great and they deserve so much more.

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