Promoting the EcoSan – Explaining the Marketing Mix

After long discussions, mid-review presentation, and analyzing our data, the team came to the conclusion – with a little help from our mentor Zita – that we should focus on marketing and especially promotion of the EcoSan toilets. Within this framework, we’ve been working on analyzing the marketing mix, incl. price, place, product, and promotion, and the values that drive our targeted audiences through the SaniFOAM framework. In this blog post, we’re presenting the frames that we use, and what we’ve discovered related to them.

Marketing Mix – 4 Ps of Marketing

The marketing Mix or the 4 Ps of marketing is a basic framework that is used to better understand the market-product-fit of a product and the attributes and beneficial features a product possesses. It was defined by E. J. McCarthy in the 1960’s and based on the idea of a marketing mix – features that need to be thought out thoroughly before selling a product. Within the framework of our study, the 4 Ps go as followed:

The product that is under investigation is the EcoSun dry toilet that has been in the core of our project. There are many pros and cons to the product, and here are some that are most essential in this context. First of all, the water table is high in most parts of Dar es Salaam and many problems are caused due to harsh floods. EcoSan dry toilets provide a feasible solution as urine and feces are both contained in containers that are suitable for the more watery seasons as well. Not urine or feces get in touch with soil or water, hence it is a better solution for the environment and health of the people.

Another feature that is considered to be good is the fact that the toilets promote closing the loop of human waste’s life-cycle. As Urine and feces are contained and composted, they can be used as fertilizers in agriculture. The only issue that we’re facing here is that when talking about urban environments, not many can use the waste themselves but there should be a market created for that.

A very concrete con on the other hand is the complex user interface that the toilet has: there are a total of five holes. One in the middle is meant for urine, and on both sides there is one for feces and one for washing water. As we’re talking about partially Muslim cultures, the hole for washing is crucial as toilet paper is not used for hygiene reasons. Washing water is not supposed to get in touch with urine nor with feces, hence a separate hole. There have been some misuses and so on due to the complex user interface.

The price of the product fluctuates between 1M and 1.2M TZS, which is approximately €350–€400. This is perceived relatively high, although there are no future costs from maintenance that need to be taken into consideration. As the perception of time and future are different, the fact that the toilet can be paid on loan and in smaller pieces, doesn’t really matter. It’s the one time cost that makes the difference. Compared to i.e. biofil dry toilets or pit latrines, EcoSan is double the price.

The place where the community members can go and get an EcoSan is the sanitation center run by PU. There is one center in each settlement and many PU members running the place. Community members should be aware of the sanitation centers, though one center is not enough to serve the entire community – the communities are large and densely populated.

Promotion of the toilets rely on the shoulders of PU members, with a little help from CCI. CCI says that they support the members of the federation in their work, though they do not seem to actively promote the toilets. The PU members on the other hand promote the toilets in community meetings and from door-to-door as a one solution to improve sanitation. It doesn’t seem like anyone is particularly promoting EcoSan, but it is rather an option in a large catalog. This is good as according to some experts that we’ve talked to one shouldn’t be promoting one solution but the ideology of something better.

At the same time we came across all the benefits of EcoSan that haven’t been considered while promoting better quality of life or that the promotion of the toilets is one-sided in the sense that different target audiences are not taken into consideration. What we’re now focusing on, is analyzing the target audiences, users and farmers, and thinking about means to promote the toilet for them as well as possible. To design a proper sanitation campaign, we came across Water and Sanitation Project’s (WSP by the World Bank) SaniFOAM framework that helps us better understand the opportunities, abilities, and motivations of the targeted audiences. Going through the framework has helped us define the driving values and aspirations of the two groups and hence in developing a marketing strategy and pinpointing the features of the toilets that should be highlighted beneficial.

Later on, we’ll present the SaniFOAM tables that we’ve created, but before that, happy Vappu (1st of May) to all!

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