Strategies for sanitation marketing

To be successful, sanitation marketing must give attention to supply as well as demand. There is no point in creating demand if the right products are not available to meet that demand. On the supply side, strategies should be structured around the traditional ‘4 Ps’ of marketing, which are product, place, promotion and price. Knowing how these four factors interact in sanitation marketing will help build and promote sustainable commercial opportunities for sanitation services in your area.

Sanitation products

Slabs for latrines will be the core component of most sanitation packages. These may be made of concrete, plastic, ceramic or other appropriate materials (Figure 13.2). The product strategy will be to supply households with a slab that is durable, affordable, convenient and easy to clean and maintain. Sanitation marketing in your area could also involve products related to handwashing facilities, such as sinks, water pipes and taps. Sanitation-related services can also be thought of as products, for example solid waste collection, or construction of biogas digesters (Figure 13.3).

Figure 13.2 Circular slabs produced by a private sector company.

Figure 13.3 Biogas digester under construction.

Sanitation ‘place’

In this context, place means the site where sanitation facilities are produced and also where they are sold. They may be the same place or in different locations, but the important point is that must be easily accessible to customers (especially for heavy items such as a concrete slab). A major problem in peri-urban areas is that the place of production and sale of the slabs can be a long way from people’s homes.

If the place where slabs or other products are sold is a long way from people’s homes, how could this affect motivation to improve sanitation at the household level?

Show answer

People are less likely to be motivated to buy the products if they have to travel long distances to view them.

This question illustrates how ‘place’can affect demand and so reduce the sale of ‘products’. If you were faced with this problem, you should work in coordination with the Woreda WASH Team and private sector organisations to try to offer production and sales in more accessible places, ideally in the kebele rather than only at woreda level. The outlets that are most convenient for sales include:

  • local selling centres established by MSEs
  • personal selling by local artisans (e.g. masons, carpenters, plumbers)
  • kebele administrators’ offices
  • health centres.

Other possible outlets are:

  • Farmers Training Centres in peri-urban areas
  • local retailing shops or sanitation sales centres
  • cooperatives (e.g. women’s associations, farmers’ associations in peri-urban areas).

Promotion of sanitation facilities

Promotion is the process of designing messages about sanitation products and services and communicating them to potential customers so as to create a demand for sanitation facilities. Communication strategies include printed materials like posters (Figure 13.4) leaflets and advertising messages on television and radio.

The promotion that you may be involved with is likely to have the general aim of encouraging householders to adopt better sanitation practices. Promotion by commercial firms will be more specific and aimed at selling a particular product or service. For example, the message they want to convey may be ‘buy our Sanplat’ or ‘use our latrine-emptying service’.

Figure 13.4 Typical poster used to raise awareness of sanitation products.

Pricing of sanitation products and services

The price is the amount of money that a consumer has to pay for a particular product or service. In the case of sanitation products, the price may also include the cost of installation and maintenance. Price is a key factor in making a product financially sustainable, meaning it can be manufactured and sold over a long period and cover its costs without the need for subsidies or grants. The consumer wants prices to be as low as possible while the manufacturer wants prices (and their profits) to be as high as possible. If these two demands can be balanced (a low enough price for the buyer that still generates enough profit for the seller), financial stability and sustainability can be achieved.

Business model for sanitation marketing

Giving due consideration to the 4 Ps can lead to the development of a successful business model, like the one shown in Figure 13.5. This model shows the steps in the supply process from manufacture to installation. Three main stakeholders are involved: the producer; the sales agent; and the customer.

Figure 13.5 A summary of a basic business model for sanitation products. (Sani Mark ‘Zena’, 2014)

The producer is responsible for manufacturing the item (for example, a latrine slab) and giving information to customers on its installation. Some sales at woreda level are made directly from the manufacturer or by orders placed at a market.

At kebele level, sales agents are recruited from the local community. People who are respected are selected from each kebele and trained on the importance of sanitation products and how to communicate this to potential customers. The sales agents engage in sales activities at the community and household level with prior introduction by the local kebele head or Health Extension Worker. When they make a sale, the agents receive the initial deposit from customers and retain their commission from the deposit. They then deliver the order and give the balance of payment to the producers.

This model was used in a pilot study in two woredas in the Tigray Region and it was found that leaflets and posters (such as the one shown earlier in Figure 13.4) distributed to every block of kebeles and the main gates of condominiums were effective in promoting the scheme.

Last modified: Friday, 29 July 2016, 9:34 AM