Getting reliable data on consumer spending is almost impossible in Kenya and other informal markets across Africa, as there is no data collected on how  informal consumers spend, who else is serving that same market and if there are any changes in customer spending  behaviors.

Instead of letting businesses by buy data which might be out of date or conducting their own study which is expensive and time consuming, Safaricom-backed mSurvey, an SMS surveys platform has launched Consumer Wallet to quantify offline consumer spending habits and trends.

The mobile platform was first piloted in March 2017 with potential clients and corporate partners in Kenya and after several months it has been launched to the general public.

The platform works simply.

mSuvey leverages SMS to measure the cash based spending drawn from Safaricom’s mobile subscribers. The data is then fed into the Consumer Wallet database benchmarking preferences and expenditures of various items. With these data clients can tell how consumers in their target segment spend, know what else they are spending on and how or when is their spending behaviour expected to change.

With the data FMCGs among others will know what their target customers are buying, how much they spend on the commodity and how did they pay. With these data clients will know customers monthly average amount, spent per person, method of Payment Purchases made with cash, mPesa or credit card,  the Wallet Share among others. A company can truly understand the dynamic consumer and know how much a client spends on food,  how much goes toward bills, transport, airtime, alcohol, entertainment, appliances among others and what trade off does she make.

Supporting this initiative Sylvia Mulinge, Director – Consumer Business, Safaricom said, “Consumer Wallet addresses a pressing business challenge by providing real time collection, assessment and analysis of data. With the world currently undergoing an information revolution, it is essential that businesses in Kenya have the tools that offer the same advantages as those in Silicon Valley.”

And though Safaricom hasn’t updated its user terms and conditions that customer data will be used and sold to clients, Consumer wallet will empower businesses with the requisite insights to arrive at more strategic decisions, and with deeper understanding of their customer needs. The service will be available on both a subscription and license basis.

Consumer Wallet will open up a majority of the country’s consumer spending happens at informal businesses, which presents an information gap for businesses looking to explore business opportunities in the sector. Consumer Wallet plugs this gap by providing unprecedented insight into the spending habits of such “offline” consumers.