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What? Why? Wow! – Understanding consumers’ needs

Lighting Africa developed a market research program in order to understand consumers’ needs, preferences, and financial situations. The quantitative testing of lighting devices carried out by Research International East Africa included five countries and evaluated five products.

Lighting Africa is a joint IFC and World Bank program that seeks to support the global lighting industry in developing affordable, clean, and efficient modern lighting and energy solutions for millions of Sub-Saharan Africans who currently live without access to the electrical grid. It provides services in the fields of quality assurance, business linkages, consumer awareness, and market research.
In response to the industry’s call to provide greater understanding of the scope of this promising market opportunity, Lighting Africa developed a market research program to give manufacturers, businesses, and project developers a thorough grasp of consumer needs, preferences, and financial situations. The research was conducted by Research International East Africa and included two key market segments (households and micro-businesses in rural and urban areas) in five countries (Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania), with twenty interviews conducted in each country. After an exploratory phase involving qualitative product testing and a quantitative survey of the populations’ habits and attitudes, Research International East Africa carried out quantitative testing of lighting devices using the proprietary eValuateTM methodology.
Since consumers in developing markets have little disposable income, measures of new product success are slightly different than in other parts of the world. In order to predict the likelihood of a successful launch, it is important to evaluate three critical factors: the “WHAT?” (consumers’ understanding of the various lighting devices); the “WHY?” (consumers’ need for the various lighting devices); and the “WOW?” (consumers’ excitement over the various lighting devices).
Tested were five products: a table lamp and two flexibly mountable lamps powered by means of small, portable solar panels; one flashlight powered by solar panels; and a second flashlight powered by common batteries. In all five countries, the product consisting of a solar panel and two flexible, round lamps, achieved top scores. In the intention to buy a product, the good quality of the light proved more decisive than affordability or diverse possibilities for use (multi-room use, possibility to charge other devices). It comes as no surprise that in countries in which only fifteen to twenty percent of the population has access to the electrical grid, operation with solar energy was likewise an important factor in decision making. The flashlight powered by a common battery consistently achieved the worst scores in nearly all five countries.

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Source:  sun-connect 3 | June 2010 (p. 10)