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Posts Tagged ‘market research’

As promised, here are some pictures of the safari in Maasai Mara.  I don’t want to clutter the Clean Water For All Flickr album with safari pictures, so I created a new album specifically for these.  I’ll add more over the weekend.  Some of my favorites are below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33468302@N02/sets/72157624009846655

Lion

Lion

Back to why I’m actually here, I spent the day back in Kibera to conduct more market research.  After speaking with several residents, I’m still quite confident that the water kiosk model will be successful in Kibera.  At first I was a bit nervous because most people I spoke with aren’t currently treating their water.  Around Kitale, that was usually an indicator that they would not be interested in the kiosk model.  However, the people in Kibera are already used to paying for water, and cholera and typhoid are constant threats.  While many realize that the water is treated at the source, they also understand that by the time it goes through the pipes and they bring it home, the water could be recontaminated.  In general, most were fine with paying 7 shillings per 20 liters, and some were okay up to 10 shillings.  At those prices, I think the model is financially viable.

Lion Cubs

Lion Cubs

I had another great break when I met with Andrew, the branch manager of Jamii Bora, a micro-finance institution working in Kibera.  Andrew was working on a slightly different kiosk concept with an organization called Microfinance Without Borders.  I spoke with both organizations and they were extremely supportive of the idea.  Andrew has offered to work with me to drive the project forward, starting with setting up a meeting with the District Officer of the area.  If the DO supports the idea, it will make it much easier to proceed.  Hopefully we’ll be able to meet tomorrow, in which case I’ll be sure to post an update.

Over the weekend I plan to post a few stories that Emmanuel told me about the Maasai culture.  You don’t want to miss them, so make sure you check back soon.

Zebra

Zebra

Elephant

Elephant

Maasai Mara Views

Maasai Mara Views

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Trying to craft an advertising strategy has been an interesting experience in Kenya.  The marketing channels are far more limited than in the US.  E-mail, direct mail, search engine marketing, magazine ads, and event sponsorship are all unavailable.  Television ads are both prohibitively expensive and not terribly useful to reach a large population that doesn’t own a television (or certainly doesn’t watch it as much as Americans).  After spending a lot of time observing what works in Kenya, it seems one of our best options is plastering the area with signs.

We’ll likely use a combination of large road side signs placed on the main road, along with hundreds of small signs that we’ll provide to shops that sell our filters.  Here are some mock ups of potential road side signs.  If they seem very simplistic, it’s because they are.  Advertising here is generally very basic and to the point.  In fact, the most common way to produce a sign around Kiminini / Kitale is to have it painted by hand.

Road side sign 1

Road side sign 1

Of course, like all marketing, a single channel is not nearly as effective as an integrated multi-channel campaign, so these signs will reinforce the messages we’re promoting through live market demonstrations, community group presentations, educational fliers, and more.

Road side sign 2

Road side sign 2

Road side sign 3

Road side sign 3

Road side sign 4

Road side sign 4

Road side sign 5

Road side sign 5

Road side sign 6

Road side sign 6

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The interviews are just about done.  The competitive research is complete, as is an assessment of viable marketing and distribution options.  After several weeks in Africa and many weeks of research ahead of time, I’ve put together a 2.5 page document outlining the key findings and recommendations for the water filter marketing strategy.  I’ve previously posted several key findings and won’t repeat them now.  Instead, I’ll just include an excerpt of the recommendations.  If you’d like to see the full document, just let me know and I’ll be more than happy to send it your way.  I’d love to hear your comments on the recommendations below.  Tomorrow I’ll post the sample road side signs.  Also note that new pictures are available through the Flickr link on the right.

Key Recommendations

Promotion – Overall the biggest barrier to mass adoption will be lack of awareness, which can be overcome with continuous marketing efforts

1. Traditional advertising

  • Roadside signs
  • In-store signs (similar to Safaricom’s “Top up here”)
  • Flyers / brochures
  • Joshua’s radio program

2. Community presentation

  • Community / Women’s groups
  • Churches
  • Schools

3. Market demonstrations (live performances / demos)

  • Kiminini Market
  • Kitale

Distribution – A broad distribution network is required to reach a relatively disbursed population, especially given the need to pay in installment

  1. Dukas in Kiminini, Kitale, and in villages will likely be the primary distribution channel given the quantity of dukas and their ability to sell in installments given their personal relationship with customers
  2. Direct sales – We can hire and train commission-based salespeople to sell the filters directly to individuals.  These people can also give community group presentations and market demonstrations.
  3. Allow doctors and health offices to sell the filters.  In addition, if allowed by law, it would be great to check with the medical community to see where cases of typhoid are being reported so we can quickly target those communities (legitimate fear of typhoid is a huge and valid motivator)
  4. KCP could sell directly, but I recommend against undercutting the market on price.  We can set the price we would like to see in the market, but undercutting dukas jeopardizes those relationships and will drastically reduce coverage.
  5. Community groups can help members purchase filters in two ways
    1. Groups can establish a filter merry-go-round fund where x members contribute Price/x shillings every 2-4 weeks to purchase a filter for one member.  The process is repeated until all members have a filter.
    2. KCP can sell filters to the community group either for cash or on credit, and the group can sell to its members using whatever terms they prefer.  Selling to a community group on credit is less risk for KCP due to the social pressure to repay, potential joint liability, and greater ability to find and repossess filters from people who default.

Price

  1. We should sell the filters at the lowest price that allows KCP to operate at a minimum of break even plus profit used to invest in plant maintenance, financial reserves, and fair employee compensation.
  2. If KCP sells directly to individuals, we can set a fair price but should not undercut the 10-15% markup required by our distribution partners.  The 10-15% amount was obtained from Khetia’s (largest store in Kitale) staff, but should be validated with the duka network.
  3. It will be critical for us to be able to advertise that the filters are available for purchase in installments.  As such, dukas selling the filter should be told of this expectation, and we should consider not using dukas who refuse these terms.  Exceptions should be made for larger stores like Khetia’s and Subiri supermarket.

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Today was the first day of interviews in the urban area of Kitale.  I met with a women’s group in the slums of Kitale, a group of mechanics, some shopkeepers, and several random people we just stopped to speak with for a few minute.  It turns out that while there were a few new issues that came up, the general mindset and decision making process was pretty similar to the people in the villages.  I’ll discuss this a bit further over the weekend, but I’m a bit under the weather and am going to bed early today.

This weekend I’ll also write at least one fun, fluffy post about the children of Kenya.  I’ll also post some new pictures, so make sure you check back soon.

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After 4 days  and a lot of walking, I’ve completed the village interviews.  I still plan to conduct several urban interviews in Kitale and Nairobi, but the answers from the villagers were consistent enough that I feel satisfied in drawing some conclusions.

Kenyan interview team

Kenyan interview team

The first key finding is that all the points I listed back in May 6th in the “Village Interviews – Day 2” post have consistently held up across the remaining interviews.

Here are some of the most important conclusions from the village interviews:

1.  People usually treat their water out of a direct feat of typhoid, either because they personally, their family, or their neighbors recently contracted the disease.  Just the general risk of getting sick is often not enough of a factor to make people look into treating water on their own.  In most cases, the decision to either boil or use chlorine was based on the recommendation of a doctor, so marketing to the health offices and regional doctors will be critical for mass adoption.  A public awareness campaign to teach people that clear water doesn’t mean clean water might help to get some new people to treat their water, but it won’t convert everyone overnight.  Another effective strategy may be to meet monthly with local health offices to see which villages are experiencing outbreaks of typhoid and then sending in a sales representative to target households in those areas.  That way we can reach people when they’re most concerned and hopefully prevent new cases of typhoid from occurring.  Group presentations in those areas would also be a good idea.

Kenya village interviews

Kenya village interviews

2.  Most people don’t consider new alternatives to water treatment, but are open to considering them once they hear about them.  Along those same lines, most people are operating under the false assumption that water treatment is prohibitively expensive.  The looks of shock, surprise, and glee that I saw during several interviews when I told people about the price of WaterGuard would be hard to fake.  In many cases people are paying five to ten times more for firewood than they would for WaterGuard or a filter, but assumed that boiling is the cheapest method.  As such, ongoing marketing including roadside signs, fliers, market demonstrations, and village presentations at churches and community groups will all be valuable in raising public awareness of the filters.  I do believe that once people are made aware of the long term cost effectiveness compared to boiling or contracting typhoid, many people will buy the filters.

Kenya village interviews

Kenya village interviews

3.  Numerous distribution channels will also be key to the successful adoption of filters.  Several shops have already agreed to sell the filters in installments, which is absolutely critical to making the filters affordable to the poorest Kenyans.  Even the people who probably could pay all at once still strongly preferred paying in installments.

Selling the filters to community groups also has a lot of promise.  These groups are very common in the villages, and are often based around financial services like savings and lending.  These groups could start what is known as a “merry-go-round” specifically for filters, where everyone in the group contributes enough so they could buy one filter.  They then repeat that process every 2-4 weeks until everyone in the group has a filter.  The other way to leverage these groups is simply to sell them to the group, possibly on credit, and then the group can sell to individual members on their own terms.  Selling to the groups greatly reduces default risk, as there is high social pressure to repay and in some cases the groups may agree to joint liability.

Picture of scenic Kenya village

Picture of scenic Kenya village

The third potential channel that has been discussed is a network of commission-based sales representatives that could travel through the villages selling the filters.  The obvious benefits here are that it lets us provide more education directly to the customers and it increases local employment.

4.  My kiosk model was not well received at all in the villages.  I’m not at all upset by this news, as I learned right away not to waste any resources on developing the model for rural areas.  It will be interesting to see the reaction of additional households in urban areas.

I hope you enjoyed reading the findings from the village interviews.  I’ll post the findings from the urban interviews in the coming days.  I’ll also be posting some pictures of draft marketing collateral like signs and brochures in the near future as well.

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I mentioned in yesterday’s post that you really need to dig to uncover the truth in the field interviews. There’s a powerful combination of people wanted to give the “right” answer, people assuming the Mzungu knows best, and people thinking that maybe they’ll get something for free if they express interest. Today I had a bizarre conversation with a woman who knew we were from the water filter plant that basically went like this:

Do you treat your water today?
– No. Nobody is sick and the water is clean
Are you familiar with WaterGuard? Have you ever tried it?
– No . There’s no need. The water is safe.
So would you be interested in purchasing a 1,500 shilling water filter?
– Yes, I would very much like to purchase a filter
Why? You said the water is clean and no one is sick.
– I’d want it as a precaution. The water would be safer if I purify it.
In that case, why don’t you use WaterGuard as a precaution today?
– I don’t know. How much does it cost?
20 shillings treats your water for a month
– Wow, very exciting! I didn’t realize that.
So will you start using WaterGuard tomorrow as a precaution since the filters aren’t ready?
– Silence.

Actions speak much louder than words. Even with these challenges, I’m still learning quite a bit from these interviews. I’ll have another post plus a bunch of pictures over the weekend, so be sure to check in.

Kenya Village Interviews

Kenya Village Interviews

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Day 1 of the field interviews is now complete and after 6 interviews, there were some interesting findings.  One issue that I somewhat expected, but not to the extent I saw it, was the tendency for people to tell me what I wanted to hear instead of what’s really happening.  There were numerous instances where people would contradict themselves during the interview.  When I questioned them on the inconsistencies, I would often find the truth to be very different from what they first told me.  Here are a few examples.

  • One woman told me that she used to use WaterGuard, a chlorine solution, but stopped because it was too expensive.  When I asked how much it cost, she said she didn’t know.  She eventually told me that her daughter used to buy WaterGuard, but since her daughter moved to a different town, she really just never thought about buying it herself.
  • Another woman told me that she usually boils water, but occasionally uses chlorine tablets.  When asked about the price, she said firewood for boiling 20 liters of water costs 20 shillings.  Chlorine cost 40 shillings for a 20 pack of tablets, each good for purifying 20 liters of water.  I asked why she didn’t use the chlorine tablets more often, and she said they were too expensive.  When I pointed out that per 20 liters of water, tablets were 10x cheaper, she then said that she actually doesn’t buy firewood, but rather goes on long walks to collect it from the ground.
  • Every person told me they believe their drinking water source is not clean and would pay up to 1,500 for a water filter.  Several said they have gotten typhoid, which cost 2,000 – 3,000 shillings to treat.  Yet many of these same people said they don’t currently purify their water because it’s too expensive.

Fortunately, there were some valuable findings.  Please note that all 6 of the women interviewed were from the same village, in the same widow’s club.  They were also on the more extreme end of the poverty scale.  Over the next several days we’ll interview people from other areas to get a more representative sample.

  • Nearly every woman said they would be extremely interested in buying the filter in installments.  Most know the vendors in the local Kiminini market, and would feel comfortable paying anywhere from 100 – 500 shillings per month for 3-10 months until they’ve saved enough to take home a filter.  They would not feel comfortable paying in installments with a vendor they did not know, and all but one said they would have no interest in the filter if they had to pay for it in full.
  • In this group, most preferred to buy the filter as opposed to the water kiosk model because it’s ultimately cheaper.  Some were also afraid there would be days they didn’t have the 5-10 shillings to purchase water, or that they might forget to buy the clean water.  Many did say that if that they preferred the water kiosk model to their current behaviors of boiling or drinking unfiltered water, but buying the filter in installments would be their first choice.
  • Their financial situations are dramatically improved during the harvest season (Sept – Dec).  That is when most of them make any big purchases.  If we are going to spend resources promoting the water filters, it likely makes sense to do it around September or October.  Many said that even if the filters were ready now and they wanted to buy them, they simply couldn’t at this time due to lack of funds.
Kenya Village Interviews

Kenya Village Interviews

It will be very interesting to see how answers differ as we meet with people from different areas and slightly higher incomes.  I will post updates in the next day or two.

Also, be sure to check out several new pictures on Flickr.  I have pictures of the village and of the market in Kiminini.  Pictures of the water filter factory will be up soon.

Stream for drinking water

Stream for drinking water

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