Inspired by the ABC reality TV show Shark Tank, PSI’s corporate partnerships team recently conducted its own version of the contest. Teams of PSI staffers presented five ideas to three judges, Sumathi Balasubramanian, senior manager, initiatives for girls and women, PSI; Marcie Cook, senior regional director, Asia and Eastern Europe, PSI; and Adeeb Mahmud, director, FSG. The winner was the Tampax for Toilets campaign, submitted by Dan Lawner and Genevieve Kelly of PSI’s East Africa department and Malaria and Child Survival department, respectively. Watch their winning presentation above or read below for more on their idea:
The target audience: One in ten girls in Africa will drop out of school due to her period. A study in Tanzania found a 12 percent increase in school attendance by girls when toilets, which provide privacy and washing facilities, were provided. Without access to sanitary pads or tampons, girls are often forced to resort to less safe and less absorbent materials, such as rags, tree bark or newspaper.
The plan: Tampax for Toilets would be a cause-based marketing campaign in which one percent of sales of Tampax in the United States during the first 28 days of May leading up to Menstrual Hygiene Day fund a program to provide adolescent girls with tampons and access to clean, safe toilets in 60 urban schools of Ethiopia. According to P&G’s 2014 Annual report, annual sales of feminine products in the US alone were valued at $1.47 billion. One percent of 28 days of sales would generate up to $1.13 million, not counting for a possible increase in sales during the promotional period, as consumers choose P&G products over the alternative in recognition of P&G’s charitable purpose.
The results: The ultimate goal of Tampax for Toilets would be to keep adolescent girls healthy, and in school. This is done through providing access to menstrual hygiene education, products, and clean, private toilets for changing and washing in 60 urban Ethiopian schools. As a bonus, only 7 percent of P&G’s sales currently are acquired in Africa, making this is a largely untapped market for their products and thus a branding opportunity.
Feminine hygiene is a sensitive topic of course. There will be a need to address cultural norms and taboos. In conversations with clients, PSI staff have confirmed that there are not prevailing cultural taboos against the use of tampons in urban settings in Ethiopia, and some interviewees have described a preference for tampons but an inability to find them at local shops. Further market research would help understand the existing barriers to tampon use and qualitative research will inform a marketing campaign that is sensitive to adolescent girls’ needs and privacy, as well as their budget.
Regardless of the evaluation results, Tampax for Toilets will provide valuable market insight into the viability of tampons in the Ethiopian market, and if successful could be expanded to similar markets in the region.