What the heck is happening at Nakumatt?


There have been a lot of changes at Nakumatt lately. And one of these changes disturbs and aggravates me greatly. It started out subtle – shifting the shelves around, expanding the toy section. But lately, there are toys, dolls, and kid’s stuff displayed everywhere.

Nakumatt Junction's newly expanded toy section, but that's not all...

Nakumatt Junction’s newly expanded toy section, but that’s not all…

Brightly colored stuffed animals are displayed alongside eggs and margarine. Play dough kits are displayed next to bread. At the end of an aisle of household staples, a bunch of cartoon character-themed sippy cups lines the shelves. And throughout the store, little TV screens playing cartoons and blaring a children’s song advertising Legos. All of this pink and blue kid’s paraphernalia is at eye-level for your little one. And don’t get me started on the gigantic bins of lollipops and shelves of chocolate, gum and candy at the till.

See that?  It's a TV screen, playing cartoons and blaring an annoying song, trying to sell stuff to YOUR KIDS.

See that? It’s a TV screen, playing cartoons and blaring an annoying song, trying to sell stuff to YOUR KIDS.

It’s called predatory children’s marketing, and as a parent, I find it incredibly annoying. Nakumatt is deliberately placing children’s toys throughout the store, alongside household staples, right in our kid’s faces. And what happens? Our kids beg , “Mommy, can I get a Bugs Bunny doll?” “Mama, I want a Barbie lunch box!” “Dad, can I pleeeaaaase get a gigantic bubblegum-filled lollipop?”

I suppose I can’t blame Nakumatt for this. It’s a great way to sell more products. Harried parents trying to get the weekly food shopping with a cranky toddler in tow are likely to give in to the whining just to get out of the store. But is it really fair?

If I had an alternative to Nakumatt, comparable in quality and selection, I would take my business elsewhere. Unfortunately, I do not…

One of the things I’ve always loved about raising my kids in Kenya is the fact that they’ve been sheltered from the commercialism and excess of life in the US. There is still less of an onslaught here , but obviously the tide is turning.

Nakumatt, are you listening? We, the parents of Kenya, do not like your new approach to selling more junk to our kids. Put the toys back in the toy department where they belong. And for heaven’s sake, please make a candy-free till that isn’t stocked floor to ceiling with condoms. We will reward this with our continued business, and our respect. Thank you.

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8 Responses to What the heck is happening at Nakumatt?

  1. Carly Koinange says:

    Wow! Is this really happening…so sad…. great article, shared with my school community 🙂

  2. Yikes, this approach has not reached Mombasa yet. But I do find offensive Nakumatt’s decision to put displays of its own-brand crisps in a little stand right in front of the milk cooler.

  3. coheteia says:

    The last time I visited Kenya (my husband is from there) my children were playing with some robot like toys at a restaurant. One of the waitresses asked me if “my children like toys?” I found it to be an odd question because I know very few children who don’t like toys. It made me quite aware of Kenyan attitude towards toys vs. the U.S. attitude. My husband had few toys growing up (although I am sure his parents could have afforded to buy him more if they had seen a need.) I am not anti-toy but I am anti-marketing to my children. We don’t shop much where toys are visible and we don’t watch TV but friends and family often give gifts despite the fact that my children want for nothing. I honestly feel that fewer toys means a greater need for imagination. I think sticks are the best toy ever!

  4. Daido Annette says:

    Yeah I noticed the dolls everywhere, I already have 3 bought and destroyed already so far by my 2 year old!! You can’t runaway from them once the kid sees them. In Fact today I had to play some tricks to offload a doll from the trolley. The dolls are not good quality by the way. I wonder why they do that yet there is a kids section for this

  5. Kellie says:

    Nakumatt’s mission is to encourage consumerism, they don’t owe parents anything. Either don’t go shopping with the children or be firm with the kids. Appealing to a RETAIL company to change their model to sell more seems a bit of a stretch to me. The same goes for TV content.

  6. Correct my simplistic approach to this, but uuh they’re a supermarket, and their core mission is to sell stuff, and constantly come up with new business models/strategies to keep driving sales, no?

  7. mwema says:

    My tweet in Oct…. Mwema
    @mwemsjo Oct 4
    #NakumattJunction wanatujaribu… placing
    automated #Minion toys right at the entrance
    kids eye level and it’s 14k… #Awuoro

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