Downtown Nairobi is transforming.

 
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The way that neighborhoods change can often be an early signal of changes in consumer behavior before those changes show up in more general statistics.

So it is of interest to marketers that -- noticeably - traditional shops are closing in the center of Nairobi and being replaced by bars. A recent article in The Nation (Nairobi), attributing consumer behavior observations to a local firm, Consumer Insights, chronicled the disappearance of numerous retail stores and the appearance of establishments with names reminiscent of South Beach in Miami.

New entrants to the Nairobi bar scene include Giggles, Tropez, Maggie's Restaurant and Pub, Steak and Ale, Winker's Pub, and many more.

Previous to this development, the center city shopping area was home to trendy clothing shops and electronics stores. These, along with supermarkets and other retail operations that depend on being close to their customer base, have moved to Nairobi residential areas. The supermarkets, moreover, according to Consumer Insights, are stocking not only food but non-food items as well.

The increasing importance of Nairobi's residential areas indicates that a pattern of household formation might soon emerge in the...

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