Thinking of implementing a sanitation marketing program? Your first step is market research. Market research dramatically improves your understanding of the motivations and behaviours of consumers, suppliers and regulators in the sanitation market.
Here are 7 tips on how to design, implement and analyse low-cost market research in partnership with local partners. The tips are based on my experiences working with Environmental Health Officers in three districts in Malawi.
Check out the following links for some great information and details about market research:
Sanitation Marketing for Managers: Guidance and Tools for Program Development.
Human Centered Design Toolkit.
If market research is so important why not hire a professional market research firm to help me out? If you have enough cash and time I say go for it! But remember that engaging professional market researchers can be expensive and they often require long lead times prior to commencing the research. Also getting out there and learning about the market for yourself can offer you with important insights that can’t be presented in a consultant’s report and flashy Powerpoint. Many big companies now encourage their product managers to spend time interacting with their target customers.
So here are my top 7 tips for conducting low-cost, market research:
Tip 1: Literature review - Search, search and then search again for existing data
Prior to designing the research program all relevant literature and datasets must be gathered. This should include national demographic and health surveys plus government and NGO reports. If you have chosen a specific area make sure you visit the local NGOs and government departments. Avoiding replication in data collection can save you time and money, plus more importantly, it prevents the local villagers from getting survey fatigue.
Tip 2: Choosing a suitable partner – who is really working at the village level?
Your next step is identifying a suitable partner to work with you to conduct your research. You may want to identify a government or NGO partner. Or there may be a local community group that could offer support in the research process. A good idea is to go to the village level and ask what organisations are engaged in health- or sanitation-related projects. This will give you a sense of who is really making waves in the sanitation sector at the grassroots level.