While some products are widely available in BOP markets, other basic goods are largely unknown. As a result, BOP consumers can be unaware of their benefits. For example, BOP customers may be unaware of the connection between unsafe drinking water and various diseases. Consequently, inclusive businesses not only have to market their goods, they also have to conduct extensive education campaigns. This can often be prohibitively costly. Governments can help to raise awareness among the BOP, as they are often viewed as being more credible.
Government involvement in awareness raising for services has most widely been in health care, education, and energy. In health care, this includes maternal health, sanitation, and hygiene. For example, educating pregnant women on the need to learn about prenatal care and basic preventive health care. Such education campaigns can strengthen the market for health care products. In the education sector, governments can inform the BOP about the potential benefits of education and the available options. This facilitates the acceptance of innovative education services among communities. In energy, governments can raise awareness among the BOP that energy is a purchased product. This understanding is critical to enable grid-connection service delivery, be it private or public.
Points to consider
- Combination of Efforts: Studies have shown that a high level of understanding is not sufficient to trigger sales. Hence, governmental awareness raising campaigns can help to inform the BOP of the benefits of goods or services, but companies have to come up with in-depth marketing campaigns at the local level to build trust and convince BOP customers of their products.
India: Awareness-raising about national health insurance schemes
Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), the Hindi national health insurance scheme, is one of the largest health insurance schemes in the world. Established by the prime minister of India in 2008, it aims to provide access to healthcare to all 300 million poor people living below the poverty line in India. Most of the beneficiaries are workers in the informal sector and their families. By covering health costs up to INR 30,000 (around EUR 355) per year for diseases that require hospitalizations, it provides poor people a critical means of protection from financial overburdens related to unexpected health events.
The government invests in awareness raising about the benefits of the national health insurance scheme to provide access to healthcare services to people living below poverty line. The government has informally involved civil society and community associations in the development of RSBY. These organizations communicated the needs of specific, often unorganized groups, and play a critical role in helping to spread awareness of the program’s benefits.
RSBY combines modern technology that helps spread the scheme across India with a market-based approach involving both public and private players. The results from the program’s first five years of operation – enrollment rates of around 55 percent and 5.6 million supported hospitalization cases – demonstrate the model’s success. Utilization rates of RSBY increased when membership cards were issued immediately upon enrollment and when clients were informed about how to make the insurance claim.
Peters, A. (2013, December 16). “Bringing ‘Smart Insurance’ to India´s Poor – A Smart Policy to Promote Inclusive Business? The National Health Insurance Scheme RSBY.” Endeva Blog. Accessed from http://www.endeva.org/blog/smart-insurance-india
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 Hystra Consulting. (2013, March). Marketing Innovative Devices for the BOP: Lessons learned from 15 global pioneers that challenge conventional sales & marketing approaches. Accessed from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/51bef39fe4b010d205f84a92/t/51f23777e4b00401306df07c/1374828407988/Shell_Foundation_March_7_2013.pdf