Repositioning charcoal in Madagascar, what is more appealing sustainability or a cost-saving?
Context When flying over the beautiful biologically diverse nation of Madagascar, the prominent effects of deforestation cannot go unnoticed. Deforestation has long been an issue for Madagascar for a variety of reasons. One of the top three drivers of the problem is due to the production of charcoal that people use for cooking. Determined to tackle this issue, GiZ/Eco-consult designed a sustainable alternative; Charbon Vert (Green Charcoal), in which the wood is cleverly sourced from reforestation projects.
The big question Do Malagasy consumers see value in the sustainable element of Charbon Vert, and if not; then what message should be communicated in order to effectively market this quality, eco-friendly solution?
Approach Marketing for Impact started with a workshop with the whole team, to try and get an initial understanding of the dynamics and problems at hand. A series of qualitative interviews and focus group discussions were carried out to proceed with investigation, interviewing both users and non-users. The findings were delivered in the form of a report.
The research goals included, but were not limited to, gaining an in-depth understanding of:
The criteria taken into account when purchasing charcoal
The methods used to assess quality of charcoal
The challenges experienced in purchasing charcoal
The experienced likes and dislikes of regular charcoal
The perceived and experienced likes and dislikes green charcoal
The competitive environment of green charcoal
Result Based on the research findings it was suggested that instead of a sustainably sourced good, Green Charcoal should be repositioned as a cost-saving opportunity. It was recommended that this strategy should be backed up by simple communication that allows customers to understand the clear tangible benefits compared to regular charcoal. For example, rather than referencing ‘superior quality’ in general, it was recommended to demonstrate that the Green Charcoal was already pre-sorted into larger pieces. It was found that consumers used the size of charcoal pieces as a quality indicator, as debris cannot be used and larger pieces burn longer. because larger pieces burn for longer, customers make a clear association between size and quality. We also recommended to educate consumers on how to judge the quality of charcoal in general, so they would be able to identify quality charcoal in the future.