Inspecting the SATO pan, Timothy, a plumber and hardware retailer, Dodowa, Ghana Source: Archipel&Co

Turbo-charging D2C sales for an impact sanitation product

By Justin DeKoszmovszky, Archipel&Co

At Archipel&Co, we’ve been working on last mile sales and distribution and sanitation products and services for decades. We were thrilled at the opportunity to combine the two in supporting SATO by LIXIL to identify, prioritise and execute a channel strategy for market-based distribution and sales in Ghana. Explore the case study here. 

Our client: SATO by LIXIL, creating sustainable, affordable hygiene solutions

LIXIL designed its SATO product range to improve sanitation and hygiene access for communities without access to sewer systems, via affordable and easy-to-install systems. SATO has impacted over 25 million lives to date, shipping over 5.1 million units across 38 countries.

The blue SATO pan, the brand’s original toilet solution, is a blue plastic bowl that can be placed directly above an existing pit latrine. Its trap door system improves hygiene and safety, as well as reducing insects and odour. SATO pans utilise over 80% less water per flush compared to traditional toilets — an ideal sanitation solution for water-stressed regions.

Our objective: enhancing market performance for an impactful product

LIXIL had successfully distributed its SATO latrine pan in Ghana via government and social-sector sanitation channels. The team was now looking to execute a channel strategy for market-based distribution and sales. At Archipel&Co, we’ve been working on last mile sales and distribution and sanitation products and services for decades, and were thrilled at the opportunity to combine the two.

SATO were already aware of the need for their product in their target area of peri-urban Accra, Ghana. With only 10% of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area served by a sewage system, faecal sludge management is low. 20-30% of the population are reliant on public toilets and over 50% live in compounds with shared latrines.

From SATO’s B2C perspective, however, the local community’s aspirations were even more important to drive commercial and social impact. Our initial qualitative research unearthed deep desire for a more comfortable and dignified latrine experience, reduced odour, ill health and insects, and increased pride in home sanitation. Understanding and effectively serving these aspirations would be key to driving user buy-in and wider adoption of the SATO pan in Ghana.

“Archipel&Co’s community research, data gathering and market expertise made them a valuable partner for this project. With the templates they created, we have a powerful tool to inform and enhance expansion and strategies across multiple regions.” (Jason Cardosi, Partnerships and Market Insights Lead at LIXIL SATO)

Our approach: from in-field research to living data visualisations

1. Building community trust with tactful fieldwork 

Our field team built relationships with the local community, able to have insight-filled conversations on the delicate, somewhat taboo (but universal!) topic of latrine experiences.

We designed rapid prototypes from these insights, iteratively testing with local residents. Our tactful in-field approach illuminated key data on need- and aspiration-based triggers for adopting the SATO pan: 98% of users said the product reduced bothersome latrine odours, while 100% were proud of their installation.

2. Rigorous qualitative and quantitative research to enable actionable results

Household sanitation and home improvement investments are sensitive topics, and we adapted gender-sensitive approaches to ensure we understood the nuances of influence and decision-making.

Top 3 Barriers by gender to installing a new toilet in peri-urban Accra, Ghana (2019)
Source: Archipel&Co

We transformed these results into beautiful data visualisations (pardon our nerdiness and lack of humility here!) to inform global SATO go-to-market strategies.

3. Navigating a complex market environment to deliver reliable data

We built trusting and productive relationships within a complex stakeholder landscape, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (sponsors of the original SATO pan innovation, as well as the research we conducted for this project), the LIXIL SATO team, Total Family Health Organisation (TFHO, part of Population Services International and SATO’s local commercial partner in Ghana) and EL-Parah Consult (Archipel&Co’s local research partner in Ghana).

This scenario encapsulated our ability to combine our inquisitive outside experts’ perspective with trusted local partners’ insight and engagement on a linguistic and cultural level.

Key outcomes: from in-field prototypes to an evolving last mile blueprint

1.Prototyped tools and techniques to drive SATO sales

Including incorporating local masons into the SATO sales ecosystem and equipping door-to-door agents with the right tools, such as leaflets on SATO pan installation options.

SATO Market activation in Ada East, Ghana
Source: TFHO

2. Scoping potential product impact via a data-driven approach

We found a 22pp increase in women’s feeling of safety when using the latrine, due largely to the SATO pan meaning they no longer rely on exposed bushland toilets. For men, we recorded a 23pp increase in experiencing less disgust. These figures enable SATO to extrapolate its impact across Ghana, pointing to key user benefits to emphasise in future marketing.

3. Informing a more cost-effective direct-to-end-user sales channel

We designed an improved sales system building on existing strengths, while integrating under-leveraged local capabilities. In short, focus on effective door-to-door sales during the innovator and early adopter phases would shift to building capabilities among local retailers and masons, bringing them into the SATO sales and installation ecosystem.

4. An evolving data and insights strategy to inform SATO sales worldwide

We provided SATO with an adaptable data and insights template to inform their ongoing expansion and sales strategies in emerging markets.

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