| Boiling Point No. 30 - April 1993 |
by Hellen OWalla, IT Kenya, c/o VSO, P O Box
284, Kisumu, KENYA
So you have decided to disseminate your stoves through commercial channels or to change over from your present system of subsidizing and marketing the stoves yourselves. There are several helpful articles in this BP about the problems you will face and how to deal with them when you prepare your plans. Here are a few practical tips and reminders of things you must not overlook:
1. Involve stove producers in developing a marketing strategy
The producers need to be involved in developing the marketing strategy. This motivates them and helps influence their attitude to work towards it. It also helps them to realise what is involved in production and marketing. Otherwise they may assume that somebody else is going to take care of marketing. In the strategy development it will also be important to consider gaining the support of other more established organizations as they may possibly be implementing agencies.
2. Identify the brand name and design a logo
This is important for any product to be sold commercially. The name should give an image of convenience and perhaps reflect the benefits of the stove. The Maendeleo has been renamed "upesi", meaning "fast", and could be easily marketed commercially in a Kiswahili speaking country as it reflects the element of time saving from fast cooking. Maendeleo is a Kiswahili word meaning development and it may be hard to sell a development product commercially if it is associated with aid. Other promotion messages from which the name of the stove could be derived are money saving, nice looking, safe etc. If identified with somebody or associated with a given ethnic group in that country then its users will all depend on peoples attitude towards the person or the ethnic group. A stove given a name may be difficult to sell commercially as it is associated with development aid.
3. Help producers to establish a profitable market price right from the beginning
This will depend on different producers' conditions of production, transport and promotion. There may be a need to train producers in simple production economics and price variation principles. With this training they should be able to work out production and marketing costs themselves and so maintain their control of marketing, production and financial return.
4. Consider installation & transport when marketing
If there is need to install the stove then the installation methodology should be very simple and if possible should build on the existing skills. For example, the "Upesi" stove installation has been simplified and is mainly building on the Kenyan women's skills of mudding the walls or making the mudstoves. The stoves could thereafter be sold with simple illustrated installation instructions.
5. Define roles of involved agencies
Roles of all involved agencies should be clearly defined right from the beginning. Ensure that each agency only plays a role that will help the project meet its ultimate goals of working with the community.
6. Work out the payback period of the stove based on fuel costs and assess the available capacities of producers. Use of professional firm could be explored
Promote through radio, market demonstrations etc. using the above materials. Promotion should be targeted at market retailers, shopkeepers, stockists or installers in the rural areas etc. Right times for promotion should be identified, ea. just after the harvest in a country where the major source of income is from sales of agricultural produce and there are peak periods.
7. Implement a strong promotional campaign to create awareness and demand
a. Prior to this ensure that the product is of good quality and supply can match the demand.
b. Gain orders for the product and establish chain of possible sellers.
c. Prepare promotional materials using the brand name and the logo. These could include leaflets, murals, signposts, banners etc.
8. Establish marketing strategy
In the implementation of the marketing strategy it is always important to integrate production, quality and marketing. The strategy should not ignore any of the marketing components-product, price, place and promotion. It should:
a. create room for sharing experience with other stove programmes in other countries. This helps in analysing the marketing strategy and promotion technologies that successfully achieve technology transfer, as well as the problems and pitfalls that need to be avoided.
b. provide training in effective marketing and selling for project personnel producers who have demonstrated successful marketing skills could be used as trainers of other producers.
c. someone with community development skills may be needed to advise on:
• understanding and helping the communities in which the producers are located;
• helping the producer groups with promotion; and
• helping improve the organization levels of the producers and their ability to contribute to marketing for sustainability.
9. Facilitate credit
If possible credit should be facilitated as either producers or sellers may need it for transportation, storage or any other activity to facilitate their business.