You can cash in by observing, predicting human behaviour

Coca Cola Brand Manager Rodney Nzioka (left) joins Kenya Open Limited (KOGL) Director Francis Okwara (centre) and Tournament Director Patrick Obath in drinking bottled Keringeti water. [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

Growing up in the countryside had its ups and downs.

But we loved the wide open spaces and freedom to know and play with everyone. I knew all my neighbours and their children.

Today, knowing your neighbours by their first name or their children is unusual in urban areas.

The naturalness of the countryside is nostalgic. Thirsty? Stop by the neighbours and ask for water and if you found them eating you joined in.

A better alternative was simply drinking water directly from the river or well like a cow.

I do not recall anyone suffering from waterborne diseases. Perhaps the water was cold and sterilised.

Why all this nostalgia?

Today, we buy water, not get it from neighbours or rivers. Who would dare drink water from the Nairobi River? And most of the rivers and the wells we drank from have long dried up.

I first found it hard to fathom buying water. But with time I found myself buying it and showing off. Never mind that packaged water is not cheap.

Sh100 for a litre, against Sh177 for petrol which is mined, refined and transported across the oceans.

That’s human behaviour, we learn to live with many things including Covid-19. Do you recall the shock and fear of Covid-19? Today?

Packaging papers

Think of buying packaging papers in the supermarket. Who thought that would become mainstream? We simply accepted it. Add parking and something I found fascinating, paying for “kupinduka” (turning) somewhere in Eastlands.

Who thought paying for the expressway would soon turn into a status symbol? And no food in planes? We also pay for toilets.

Our adaptation has taken us from the Stone Age to the Space Age.  Entrepreneurs love that adaptation. They can introduce new products and services and make money. Remember selfie sticks?

Who thought we would walk while listening to music? Who thought the cameramen in our villages will one day become jobless?

If you can observe human behaviour or better predict it, you can make lots of money. If you can influence it, you will swim in money.

That is why behavioural economics is the new kid on the pedestal. What have you adapted to and now pay for it? Talk to us.