Female buying power on the rise in Africa

Women are progressively becoming the biggest investors in Kenya’s mid-market real estate with female buyers making up 62% of the purchases at the Casa Mia property development, situated 45 minutes from Nairobi’s CBD. This is evidence of a trend that has seen the buying power of female consumers increasing in Africa.

Time-stripped female consumers are increasingly enjoying the mall culture.

Real estate sales in Casa Mia have been dominated by single female buyers. The homes are designed to attract upcoming professionals and young families at an entry price of KSh5.25m (US$62,278) with prices predicted to increase by 30% over the next two years.

“Female buyers are emerging in quite extraordinary numbers in this property class,” said Sakina Hassanali, marketing manager at Hass Consult, a Kenyan real estate agency. “Most have done their research, and know exactly the kind of house they would like to invest in.”

This growth in female property buyers has been seen globally since the late 1990s, as women are increasingly able to invest their money in property. South Africa’s Standard Bank found that, between 2000 and 2005, women buying property increased by 9% to 37% of all buyers in the country.

But Kenyan women seem to be ahead of the game as their socio-economic status continues to rise in the country. According to the Institute of Economic Affairs, women now run 54% of the country’s enterprises.

The rise of the female consumer

African women are becoming more independent and moving further away from their traditional stereotypical roles. More and more women are earning their own money and supporting families, according to Daphne Kasriel-Alexander, consumers editor at Euromonitor International.

According to Carat SA’s 2011 research, affluent, single women have become a significant consumer segment in South Africa. Between the ages of 18 and 44 years, 73% of women are single with 66% of them working. Out of the 73% single women, 51% believe that their career is more important than starting a family.

“In many countries there is a trend towards working women opting to postpone having children, or choosing to have fewer children, in order to advance their career,” says Kasriel-Alexander. “This has been seen in countries such as Nigeria where birth and fertility rates have declined in recent years.”

While African men still have more than double the disposable income that women have, the group of female middle-class consumers is definitely on the rise, according to Kasriel-Alexander. This has paralleled with the development of the formal retailing sector in Africa and the construction of modern shopping malls that offer convenient, easy shopping for customers.

“The rising middle class has meant that convenience has become important for modern time-stripped consumers, with women in Africa enjoying the mall culture, while wanting instant access to information and technology and staying connected via social networking and mobile phone technology,” notes Kasriel-Alexander.

While the e-commerce culture is only just starting to take off in Africa, women are turning to online shopping, especially online group buying. Group buying offers products at a reduced rate when a minimum number of buyers make a purchase. In Kenya, online companies such as Rupu and Mocality have received significant attention in women-interest items such as clothing and dinner packages, according to Kasriel-Alexander.

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen the entry and expansion of fashion retailers in various countries. In 2011 Spanish fashion retailer Zara entered South Africa. This year Gap also opened two stores in South Africa. How we made it in Africa has previously reported that European fashion chain Mango aims to have a presence in each of Nigeria’s major cities. Mango opened its first outlet in Lagos in December 2009.

Woolworths and the Foschini Group – both South African fashion retailers – are also expanding their footprint in Africa. According to Kasriel-Alexander, in an effort to take advantage of the rising group of African female consumers, Woolworths aims to double their number of stores outside of South Africa by 2014 and the Foschini Group plans to add 57 more stores in other African countries over the next three years.