Because HIP is also focused on engaging the private sector to achieve scale, it will explore different types of marketing models.
In recent years, marketing has become an important aspect of development programming: principles of marketing are used as a management tool to realize public health benefits. This is achieved by examining what products and services are offered and how; where they are available; what consumers can pay both in terms of time and money; what competes for consumers’ time, effort and spending; and how products and services are promoted. The private sector adjusts to these areas to gain or maintain market share. For example, if consumers cannot afford to buy a bar of soap or build a latrine, manufacturers might make smaller bars of soap that are affordable or offer financing schemes for home latrines. Latrines could be marketed as a status symbol as much as a health purchase. Water disinfection products can be produced by local companies and distributed through existing networks already reaching remote areas.
HIP’s target audience encompasses many impoverished households that need not only safe water and appropriate sanitation, but simple, inexpensive ways to reduce diseases. This target audience is often far from urban centers and their water and sanitation services, and far from traditional resources used by marketers to promote goods and services. But sometimes poor people have extra money that could be spent to improve their health. HIP will explore novel ways to market improved hygiene to people with limited disposable incomes. These include a range of financing schemes, including the appropriate role of subsidies to stimulate market entry and accessibility; advancing a sustainable marketing model; and identifying new incentives for private sector involvement that reduce risk.
Sustainability and Marketing
HIP will work to advance a sustainable marketing model in the water, sanitation and health communities by catalyzing strategic partnerships among multiple actors, stimulating multiple interventions to present and allow access to the solution, and acting at multiple levels to create a supportive environment. HIP will progressively integrate these activities into the partner’s core business so HIP can phase out while ensuring the sustainability of the intervention.In addition, to counterbalance the fragility of economic sustainability, HIP will also consider how subsidies might be used to a) jumpstart the commercial market for market entry, including but not limited to product development, testing, and/or market research, b) ensure that the very poor have access to the technologies recommended for hygiene improvement, and c) assure that public sector institutions like health centers, schools and marketplaces demonstrate appropriate water and sanitation technologies and model feasible options for hygiene improvement.
Social Benefits vs. Risk
In recent years the private sector has supported development initiatives either to exhibit corporate responsibility or to increase profits by boosting product sales through new markets. Several recent studies have indicated that social responsibility does not increase business opportunities and higher prices to support social causes do not increase market share. Recognizing this, the commercial private sector is seeking to reduce risk and to shift the burden of market entry and guaranteed sales to development agencies.
Multinational corporations have been active in many development programs. Several soap companies supported Central America’s Public-Private Partnership for Hand Washing program; Exxon/Mobil supports bed net subsidies in Ghana; Colgate Palmolive supports the healthy schools program in over 20 countries. Such corporations, responsible for maintaining profits for investors, are generally risk averse.
HIP will seek new arguments to support commercial private sector involvement in hygiene improvement efforts. HIP will build on other successful innovations in health social marketing such as bed net sales and fortified food products. HIP will also explore cogent incentives for involving the private sector as well as ways to reduce private sector risk (beyond bulk pre-purchase of product or general subsidies of products). Finally, HIP will engage the local offices of multinational companies, which may be more willing to engage in activities at the local level to benefit their consumer market.