Challenges affecting coffee marketing by coffee firms in Kenya
Historically, coffee has been an important commodity in Kenya because of its contribution to foreign exchange earnings, farm incomes and employment opportunities. The emergence of new consumption patterns poses great challenges to Kenya who sells large quantities of homogenous and undifferentiated coffees. The main issues at the moment in marketing Kenyan coffee around the world revolve around value addition, quality assurance, packaging and branding. The research objectives were to determine the challenges affecting coffee marketing by coffee firms in Kenya and to determine the marketing strategies adopted by the firms to deal with the challenges. This study employed descriptive research design. The target population composed of eight major coffee marketing firms in Kenya. The researcher collected both primary and secondary data. The researcher administered a questionnaire to the General, Marketing and Operations Managers in each of the eight firms to collect primary data. Secondary data was also collected for this study. The researcher carried out a pilot study to pre-test and validate the questionnaire. Quantitative data collected was analyzed by the use of descriptive statistics. Content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. The study found that the challenges affecting coffee marketing in Kenya include fast changing consumer tastes and preferences, economic uncertainty and declining terms of trade at the international level, multiple channels of distribution that eat into the pockets of farmers and the magnitude of marketing costs. The study also found that the coffee marketing strategies adopted by the firms to deal with the challenges include market expansions, exhibitions as a promotion strategy, pricing rationalization and product innovation. The study concludes that fast changing consumer tastes and preferences, economic uncertainty and declining terms of trade at the international level are the main challenges affecting coffee marketing and that market expansions, exhibitions as a promotion strategy, pricing rationalization and product innovation are the main marketing strategies adopted by the firms to deal with the challenges. The study recommends that there is need to reduce the cost of certification, farmers should be encouraged to adopt product differentiation into specialty coffees that can achieve premium prices in the specialty coffee markets and the coffee marketing firms should look for more market opportunities in the emerging coffee markets as opposed to the traditional coffee markets.