We want to make sure new sanitation technology reaches the biggest number of people. Our commercialisation model requires the creation of products for which there will be demand on a big scale. So we need to know exactly who our target customers are, and what they want and need from their sanitation – especially compared to what they’ve already got.
Our market intelligence team has been finding out.
We’re talking to users of various types of pit latrine about pit filling and other sanitation concerns in different cultural and physical settings. In both Africa and Asia, we’re learning as much as possible about sanitation priorities, latrine use and maintenance, as well as exploring people’s ideal sanitation solutions.
This will help us develop new products that people will buy.
Who will be the key end-users and purchasers of our innovations? Based on people’s needs and the potential of likely solutions to address them, we identified several broad clusters of potential customer: households, humanitarian NGOs, schools and municipalities.
We researched whether they would make a commercially viable customer base, and whether they were compatible with our social and public health mission. This showed households to be our strongest potential market.
To understand the problems, needs, habits and aspirations of low-income families, we asked what they think about pit-filling, what they do about it now, their ideal sanitation solution and what stops them from achieving it.
We found that pit-filling causes real anxiety – about the cost and difficulty of emptying or replacing a pit, health risks and unpleasantness. Where they can afford it or have the space, people empty or replace full latrine pits. They sometimes use additives to try to reduce fill rates.
Most think a septic tank would fulfil their aspirations for privacy, safety and convenience, but cost is a major barrier.
Will New Products Sell?
As we develop sanitation innovations based on people’s needs and aspirations, we’ll explore our emerging ideas with potential consumers.
This will help us refine our concepts and build a sound business case for our products, so we develop solutions people will want to use. We’ll keep you posted.