Making the Inaccessible, Accessible
14 August 2016
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The words informal settlement and huge marketing potential are not often associated - a reality that G. G. Alcock highlights in his fascinating book, Kasinomics. The book covers a variety of success stories from the low-income, informal sector, and the insights are astonishing. Two case studies in particular, stand out - detailing how the humble cheese slice and a common household disinfectant were transformed into essentials.

The simple act of adding a single, wrapped Parmalat cheese slice to a 'kota' (a hollowed quarter loaf of bread) generated hundreds of thousands of rand. Not only was it a hit with the market, it became an item that consumers believed they 'couldn't do without' - purchasing a 'kota' without a Parmalat slice was unthinkable. In the second study, savvy promotion of Jeyes Fluid resulted in a 30% rise in sales in one month... and a 70% rise the next. All achieved by positioning the correct product in the appropriate market and communicating the message effectively.

Marketing is a strange beast. What works for one group of people, doesn't necessarily work for another.... and what is seen as high-end in one community, may be seen as 'rubbish' in the next. Tapping into the next big thing starts with knowing one's market inside out - and thorough research of a selected market and immersion in the culture and community of the audience are essential. By immersing ourselves in the selected environment, we gain insight that is indispensable.

Alcock's story of the sales of single Huggies nappies in rural communities is a case in point. Alcock and his team made it their mission to understand the needs and desires of consumers in these communities and conducted extensive field research. What they found was that women would be willing to spend more on a single Huggies nappy because of the perceived quality, rather than spend less on a cheaper brand that leaks. This strategy of getting to know one's customer and surroundings saw Huggies sales grow by 300% in just three months... and provided genuine benefit for customers.

The bottom line is that we need to understand fully and deeply what it is that our customers want and need - in fact, we need to know what it is that they haven't yet realised they can't live without. It is only when we master the art of listening to what is truly important to our consumers that we discover unimaginable opportunities.

By Kim Podmore
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