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Tricks PSV Hawkers Use in Luring Customers

Updated on July 1, 2021
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a columnist with a Kenyan print media.He is also a freelance writer with various online and offline media platforms

a hawker selling goods inside a  bus
a hawker selling goods inside a bus

While travelling to their various destinations, commuters encounter a diversity of hawkers. There are those who fend herbal products, pencils, electronics, household goods, books among others. However, getting a commuter to buy what he or she had not budgeted for is a toll order at least for many of these traders. Those who are clever have a number of tricks they use to ensure that they put food on their tables at the end of the day, here are ten of them.

Use of Promotion/Offer Tag

Ninety nine percent of the hawkers will always claim that they are promoting their products and giving them on offer. Such will claim that they have well thriving retail shops and distribution mechanisms that they don’t really depend on sales from hawking. However, the truth is that this is part of the “hustle” and the promotion tag is just a technique they use to influence purchases and in the process win bread for their families.

Use of Comedy

Some decide to use outright comedy and you may wonder why they are not seeking a job in Churchill or any other local comedy and drama shows. The funny pencil hawker mentioned will claim how that business has made him to live in palatial homes Runda and build high end rentals. He will also claim the “superiority” of the pencil including ability to make the student pass with flying colors, ability to write in the shortest time possible, being fitted with tracking devices to avoid being stolen etc. Commuters will be laughing in the PSV vehycle with these jokes. In the end, the commuters will be influenced to buy the commodities just to promote and support the “comedian hawker”

Using fake samples for demonstrations

These hawkers are aware that most customers and not only commuters are hesitant into buying new/untested products. This is because these new products may not live up with the desired quality and standards and as such, they could be harmful. Accordingly, these hawkers will always have a sample (which they could have fitted with a different product but in the same container) to demonstrate to the customers how the product works. However, you will discover upon reaching home that the product never works as claimed and could actually be harmful.

Limiting the number of the Products to create demand

Many hawkers, whether those selling herbal products, personal effects, food, electronics among others are used to lying that the products they are “promoting” are limited in quantity. The hawker will claim that only five “lucky” people who had a given amount will benefit as other customers have already bought the products and he/she has only few remaining. He will ask five people who needed the “de-worming medicine” to raise their hands up. However, this is strategy to create demand and encourage people into buying the products. You should not be surprised to see that all the extra people who raised up their hands got the products and the said hawker still asks whether there are still others remaining. A careful check at the bag will tell you that it is full of the same products

Terming their products as the best

Still, many of these hawkers will insist that their products are always the best since they have been “tried and tested” They will go on to claim that their standards and quality cannot match those of the competitors as they are 100% sure of effectiveness. They will also cheat the commuters how their products have met the necessary conditions and quality assurance from relevant bodies, yet they are not even known in the market.

Boasting about their “imaginary achievements”

Yes, there are those whose marketing tactics involves boasting about their “imaginary achievements” Such achievements will include attaining a degree in research, Mimicry, biochemistry, neorology among others or even visiting Western countries such as the United States, Canada, and France among others. They will claim that their educational search and travels are associated with their business, which is false.

Tagging popular brands and personalities

Many hawkers will try as much as possible to relate their
“unknown products” with the popular brands/institutions in the market. A notorious, funny hawker in Nairobi City who sells pencils is known for his jokes claiming that he has been commissioned by the minister of education or the president to sell those pencils, and he actually sells them. A herbalist selling his own concoctions will claim that his “brand” is an affiliate of Kamirithu, Makini, Beta, Tiens among others yet this is not so. There are also those who suggest to their customers that the products can be found in major supermarkets like Tuskys, Naivas, Uchumi, Nakumatt among others and that they will have to dig deeper if they bought them from those channels. The truth is that if you go to those supermarkets, you will not find any of those alien items there.

Associating themselves with local and international media

A hawker will go to the extent of claiming that he or she has been constantly sought and invited by local and international media to “discuss” about issues related to his/her products. However, if you follow keenly, you will find that the so hawker has never appeared in any media house. The idea is to portray himself as an “expert” and a credible person in this business.

Claiming that they are not after money but service to humanity

There are also hawkers who will “assure” commuters that their goal is not to make money but to “help” people with problems using their goods. According to these dudes, they have already made enough money and they are now giving back to the society. The aim here is to elicit empathy among commuters and make them buy the products. However, the truth of the matter is that these “hustlers” are on business and at the end of the day; their wives will be waiting for them to come home with flour.

Use of intimidation/ Blackmail

It is not uncommon to hear a hawker shouting that “if you are a woman and you don’t want to look beautiful, “you will get old while at your parents place” or “for those who are married, your husband will leave you and go for a side chick if you don’t want to maintain beauty”. The idea here is to compel the girl-child into purchasing these strange items which the trader alleges to treat all kinds of skin problems, as well as to smoothen and enlighten it. The hawker will go on to assure the ladies in the psv vehicle that the concoction will turn them from being ugly into being yellow, yellow and therefore, be liked by their hubbies/boyfriends.


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