Innovation and entrepreneurship in Kenya is advancing fast. The consumer market for beauty and health products is one of the areas that have seen much growth. As the middle-class expands, people are also becoming more conscious of the products they use. There is therefore a shift towards more organic and healthier options. In my response, I would like to analyze Marini Naturals- which I find greatly innovative in their products and overall business culture.
Marini naturals is Kenya’s first hair-care product line that targets natural African hair. It was established at a time when the general trend of African women was shifting from relaxed hair to wearing natural curls. However, most products in the market were imported and targeted either non-African hair or relaxed hair. This created an unserved market of women who needed natural products that could care for their hair.
I find it very important that she draws this observation from her own personal experience with her hair following her dad’s illness. This makes her story very personal. It also helps her gain emotional buy-in from her customers who become loyal supporters. It gives the business a bigger purpose that is far beyond selling hair-care products. I find that having a story is very important for a start-up. The name of the start-up “Marini” comes from a swahili word which describes something that is fresh, healthy and good. The choice of name therefore helps customers (native speakers of swahili) identify with the benefits of this organic product.
Another factor that has made Marini Naturals highly successful as a start-up is the quality of product it offers. This has enabled them to provide immense value for customers and enabled their products to be positioned in the hair-care market based of quality rather than price. They understand clearly that customers buy based on price when they fail to see value. This is very common in consumer markets. Marini Naturals is able to overcome this hurdle and increase their profitability.
In terms of the team, Michelle Ntalami- the founder of Marini Naturals has a background in Strategic Brand and Marketing. In addition to this, she is trained in design. This knowledge has been very useful in helping the brand enter the market as well as the overall design; from the name, logo, colours and even scents. These factors have all played greatly in making Marini Naturals a high quality and competitive product. Much creativity can be seen in how they market their products online, produce hair tutorial videos, work with bloggers for product reviews and engage customers for feedback as they build a community of loyal followers.