Solar - Marketing
Lessons from early experience suggest that marketing campaigns can be extremely costly and time consuming in rural areas, often requiring door-to-door and direct contact. Simple consumer awareness is usually insufficient by itself. Dealers benefit from marketing assistance in early phases of new market development until a “critical mass” of customers develops that makes marketing easier.
Marketing through freelance sales agents
Marketing through freelance sales agents requires a high level of trust especially if products are handed out on commission base without asking for any collateral. There is a high risk that sales agents don't repay the cost of all received products. Consequently, selection of freelance sales agents has to be taken with care. Alternatively, products should be handed over to sales agents only against up-front payment to ensure that they, in turn, will enforce payment by households. However, for such a model capital availability on the side of the sales agents would certainly emerge as a bottleneck. Lack of accountability by the freelance sales agents could also be overcome by identifying at least 2 guarantors for each agent.
After sales services
Consumers have higher trust in products if spare parts are easily available and if warranties are provided.
Customers living in close proximity to Arua town are better informed about solar products than people in the villages and tend to make highly informed purchasing decisions. They would not buy the lamps on the occasion of a particular promotion event, but rather collect detailed information about the products promoted and later compare them with the full range of offers available with retailers in Arua. This experience was also made by a sales agent who presented the lamps at a meeting of his SACCO group, where members showed a keen interest but took it as an opportunity for information rather than for purchasing a lamp directly.