Social marketing for a better world

Reaching the Poor

A DKT truck delivering contraceptives to a pharmacy in a low-income neighborhood in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

DKT International’s core mission is to provide safe and affordable options for family planning and HIV prevention through social marketing.  DKT makes its products and services affordable to the poor in several ways:

Keeping prices low: In every country, DKT programs price at least one brand of every family planning method within traditional affordability guidelines.  To ensure that product pricing is affordable to the poor, DKT utilizes a well-established formula to determine consumer prices for a one-year supply of contraceptives. In this way, and by regularly checking the prices of everyday consumer goods like a cup of tea or a single cigarette, DKT ensures that its contraceptives are affordable. In Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for example, DKT’s condom brands are subsidized at less than 2 American cents each to reach the poorest segments of the population. While DKT always strives to increase its revenues to achieve financial sustainability — and is increasingly successful in doing that — it never does that by putting its products out of the reach of our lowest-income consumers.

Putting products where the poor can access them: In addition to affordable pricing, DKT takes extra care to ensure that family planning products and services are available in rural, hard-to-reach, and low-income areas.  And it makes them available in sales outlets frequented by low-income and high-risk consumers, like street kiosks, truck stops, brothels and non-profit clinics. In China and India, DKT sells inexpensive condoms to sex workers in low-income, high-risk settings. It does this in both low- and middle-income countries.

Tailoring communications for the poor: DKT uses a language and style appropriate for the poor, and then delivers its messages through channels that actually reach them, both through branded and generic campaigns. This means, for example, crafting radio and television messages tailored for low-income and most at-risk populations and identifying creative means for delivering those messages. In Bihar, India and the DRC, DKT uses radio instead of television. It deploys midwives on market days in rural areas. In the Philippines, it uses outreach vans in poor barrios.

Research focusing on the poor: To ensure that all of the above is done effectively, DKT conducts research on poor and vulnerable consumers to test for price sensitivity, product availability, reception and comprehension of messages and changes in sexual and reproductive health behavior, among other things.