RSS icon Marketing Blog

RSS Feed

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Get your hands dirty - Ben Cole talks sanitation market research

Thinking of implementing a sanitation marketing program? Your first step is market research. Market research dramatically improves your understanding of the motivations and behaviours of consumers, suppliers and regulators in the sanitation market.

Here are 7 tips on how to design, implement and analyse low-cost market research in partnership with local partners. The tips are based on my experiences working with Environmental Health Officers in three districts in Malawi.
Check out the following links for some great information and details about market research:
Sanitation Marketing for Managers: Guidance and Tools for Program Development.
Human Centered Design Toolkit.

If market research is so important why not hire a professional market research firm to help me out?  If you have enough cash and time I say go for it! But remember that engaging professional market researchers can be expensive and they often require long lead times prior to commencing the research. Also getting out there and learning about the market for yourself can offer you with important insights that can’t be presented in a consultant’s report and flashy Powerpoint.  Many big companies now encourage their product managers to spend time interacting with their target customers.

So here are my top 7 tips for conducting low-cost, market research:

Tip 1: Literature review - Search, search and then search again for existing data

Prior to designing the research program all relevant literature and datasets must be gathered. This should include national demographic and health surveys plus government and NGO reports. If you have chosen a specific area make sure you visit the local NGOs and government departments. Avoiding replication in data collection can save you time and money, plus more importantly, it prevents the local villagers from getting survey fatigue.

Tip 2: Choosing a suitable partner – who is really working at the village level?

Your next step is identifying a suitable partner to work with you to conduct your research. You may want to identify a government or NGO partner. Or there may be a local community group that could offer support in the research process. A good idea is to go to the village level and ask what organisations are engaged in health- or sanitation-related projects. This will give you a sense of who is really making waves in the sanitation sector at the grassroots level.
 

blue arrow Read

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Plan Indonesia Disability Inclusion in WASH

Since the beginning of 2012 Plan Indonesia has been explicitly trying to implement disability inclusion approaches within its existing sanitation and hygiene projects. Even though the results achieved at the community level vary, it is becoming clear that disability inclusion approaches are making a difference in terms of enabling people with disabilities (PWD) to have full access to basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. Plan Indonesia considers the year of 2012 as the initial step of disability inclusion achievement within its WASH program, which will be built on in the following years.  

blue arrow Read

Thursday, December 13, 2012

WaterSHED in Cambodia - a hands-off approach to SanMark

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Development, commonly known as WaterSHED, is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the water and sanitation sectors in South East Asia. Its objectives are to “bring effective, affordable water and sanitation products to market in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam”. WaterSHED in Cambodia started as a public-private partnership before becoming registered as an NGO in 2011. In its short life it has grown by leaps and bounds in both success and reputation.

When asking WaterSHED staff what they see as their core functions, Geoff Revell, Program Manager, is clear and passionate in his response. He sees their function as to draw in the private sector so that they are interested in engaging in the business of WASH. He also adds the importance of working with the local government to create an environment where the market can succeed. When asked how WaterSHED goes about doing this, about how it is that they have managed to be successful, the answer is quite simple, “identify the obstacles and enable local actors to overcome them.” WaterSHED manages to do this well and the staff are excited about it.

With 75% of rural Cambodians not having a latrine, WaterSHED has introduced what they call the Hands-Off approach to sanitation marketing for latrine purchase, where their role is as facilitators – linking consumers and suppliers to maximise sustainability. Until recently, rural Cambodians relied on latrine ‘hand outs’ from the local government or charity organisations but the need is too great for them to ever reach everyone. The ‘Hands-off’ approach is led by Cambodians, encourages behaviour change and is definitely sustainable. So what are the main obstacles to latrine purchase and usage? Well rather than wasting time speculating, WaterSHED staff went in to various villages to find out. They discovered that potential buyers faced barriers such as difficultly buying multiple parts from various sellers, difficulty in having it delivered, and lack of access to finance or the belief that they couldn’t afford it. On the upside they also discovered that the demand was in fact there, people did want latrines at their homes and did not want the danger and inconvenience of going out in to the field and the possible health risks associated. Again for WaterSHED, the answer was then logical, ‘remove the obstacles’. It wasn’t about only introducing new products but about how the average household could access latrines and how all of this could be done simply and locally.

WaterSHED’s Hands-Off program works with local suppliers explaining to them the market that exists for the purchase of latrines if they are willing to learn how to make latrines and sell them at an affordable price as well as help with delivery. WaterSHED also trains local people in proven sales techniques and teaches them how to set up sales events in villages. Independent sales agents recruited by suppliers work with the support of local government to host an event involving community members. The local residents hear about the advantages of owning a latrine and the ease of purchasing one. Often the supplier will bring a latrine to show, which creates much excitement and lots of little giggles. By the end of the event, many villagers have purchased their first latrine or are at least thinking about it.

The increase in sales and the creation of jobs in rural areas and poor provinces helps the village economy and most importantly is completely self-sustainable. With finance being the third of the barriers, WaterSHED is partnering with some micro-finance organisations to offer payment plans to enable more people to purchase latrines.

The sales events have taken away the barrier of being ‘difficult to buy’, the suppliers offering scheduled delivery included in the purchase takes away the second barrier; and the micro-finance partnership helps with access to loans for either the villager or for the supplier wanting to offer instalment payment options. And the best part? The villages don’t need to rely on WaterSHED. The relationships formed with local suppliers, the training for the sales events and the relationships formed with local government and councils allows the purchase of latrines to be simple and effective. It helps facilitate behaviour change and create stronger communication channels.

The success of the Hands-Off approach is evident in many ways. In 2012 some villages have already reached 100% latrine ownership. One supplier interviewed said that before he got involved with this project he was selling 2-3 latrines per month but in the last 6 months he has sold over 300 and he is looking to expand his business.

 

blue arrow Read

Friday, October 26, 2012

Who is the 'latrine boss' of Indonesia?

Approximately 237 million people live in more than 16,000 islands that make up the nation of Indonesia. According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program on drinking water and sanitation, a staggering 62 million Indonesians still defecate in the open, using fields and waterways to complete their most private business. The Association of Grobogan Sanitation Entrepreneurs (PAPSIGRO) is a group of sanitation marketers who are hoping to do a thing or million about this.  

blue arrow Read

Monday, September 03, 2012

Why we need fresh thinking to solve the sanitation crisis

For many of us the statistics are grimly familiar: 2.5 billion people without access to basic sanitation, 1.8 million deaths per year from diarrheal diseases, knock-on effects of poor sanitation and hygiene on nutrition and education, devastating impacts on the dignity and safety of people and communities. At present rates the sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) may not be met until 2026, making it one of the most off-track targets in many countries of the world. 

blue arrow Read

Get Involved

Add your Story

Add your story to the SanMark Map. If you or your organization are practicing SanMark we would love to add your project to our Global Map to highlight the spread of SanMark throughout the world.

Ask our Experts

Ask our experts any questions you like related to SanMark. Experts are available to share their extensive experience in SanMark with you and provide timely advice.

Post to Forum

Join in the discussion on our SanMark forum. The forum is a place for ongoing dialogue amongst our Community of Practice. Add your comments to current topics or ask your own questions to open up new conversation. Join the discussion now!

Submit to the Blog

Write a blog post on any topic related to SanMark, perhaps an article you have written or come across, or perhaps there is something you feel passionate about and would like to share your thoughts on.

Case stories, articles, opinion pieces, photos – as long as it’s related to SanMark – please send it our way!


Stay in touch!

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

Subscribe to eNews

Keep abreast of all SanMark developments!

Simply enter your name and email address below.