Price Alignment: The second step is to convince customers that they actually need or want your product so much that they should be willing to pay for it.
I would argue that most companies stop there—which is a large part of why so many products fall flat when it comes to sales.
At the bottom of the pyramid, the challenge of setting the price low enough to pass step two is incredibly difficult…which is probably why it is a rare gem that can pass step three.
Behavior alignment, the third step of marketing, requires you to build products that either fit seamlessly into the consumers’ current lifestyle or that challenge them to change behavior in a way that they aspire to.
If you are from the developed world, there is no doubt that you are accustomed to changing your behavior in small ways to use products. Consumer culture means that we are more exposed to new products which require new behaviors.
Yet, sometimes even small behavior changes are enough to keep you away (I’m still fighting with my new kettle because it requires me to pour in a funky way).
Yet, in the developing world, behavior change is an even bigger deal. For families with very little, it is unlikely that their behavior has changed. With the same tools used year after year, generation after generation, it can be scary to try new methodologies—especially with the risk.
Behavior change is a sales wall that hits every industry. Drip-irrigation companies struggle to convince farmers that they don’t need to flood their farms. Solar-powered lantern companies struggle to convince owners that they don’t need their old kerosene lanterns anymore. Soap companies struggle to convince people with dirty hands that washing them is worth the time & money.
One particularly interesting example is Wello, a water transportation company focused in India. The product is brilliant. By placing water into a big yellow wheel, women can push 20 gallons of water with ease (vs. 4 gallons with lots of difficulty). Access to a better water transportation service is of incredible value (my charity:water has one of the best videos I’ve seen on the subject) and the price is right, so where would Wello possibly struggle?
If you guessed behavior—that’s right. In India women carry water in their hands. Wello asks them to push water on the ground. Though the woman will still be taking water from the same source to their home, the way of doing so is slightly different.
To pass the behavior test, Wello needs to ask itself a lot of questions, among them:
- Will women push instead of carry?
- Does the path women take allow for pushing?
- Are there any implications of transporting the water in the air vs. on the ground?
I’m sure there are many more, but you get the idea.
Wello’s biggest challenge is not product need: people need better ways to transport water. It is probably not price: the product is $20 to $30 and creative business/financing models have shown that this is a manageable price point for the bottom of the pyramid.
The biggest challenge is that in India there is a large cultural sensitivity to the fact that the ground is unclean. Touching someone with your foot can be offensive. Therefore, the act of pushing water along the ground makes it seem unclean to the individuals involved.
I’m sure Wello is working hard to figure this out and I think that they’re on to something huge.
The trick is getting behavior alignment right.