The Last Frontier in Kerosene Replacement lies in Consumer Purchasing Behavior!

Social enterprises have made great progress is developing effective solar lighting alternatives to the dirty and costly kerosene prevalent in the homes of more than 1.2 billion people. Additionally, finance mechanisms have further improved the favorable lifetime costs of kerosene replacement. So why haven't these energy access solutions seen viral uptake among low-income consumers? 

Clearly, the answer lies in the behavior patterns of potential customers relative to purchase decisions. A quick review of documented behaviors among rural consumers in India reveals that the conventional wisdom employed by SocEnts may overlook the real reasons why kerosene is so tough to replace in Last-Mile markets.

As a commodity, kerosene benefits from the customer's universal familiarity with the product, so introducing an alternative MUST depend on changing established Purchasing Behavior to succeed.

This post illustrates how, in order to successfully introduce a new alternative to kerosene into Last-Mile markets, a social enterprise must develop an accompanying strategy for targeting an optimal response from within an established range of rural Purchasing Behavior categories. 

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Comment by Joe Kselman on March 5, 2015 at 1:05pm

As the cost of both PVs and batteries continue to drop the micro finance model for basic solar home lighting becomes viable for even the most impoverished communities.  Solar will be just like cell phones which are now everywhere.  Supply side economics definitely play a role when it comes to access, but I think educating the people is a perhaps the biggest factor in the process.  

Comment by Salvatore Chester on February 7, 2015 at 3:50am

Thanks again Vincent for your positive efforts.

Just to share my experience from this part of Africa, I believe, whoever is serious in making money for himself, should primarily focus on supply and delivery of the "right products" (quality/affordable/available) to the several million BOP customers desperately waiting for better alternatives to harmful and expensive kerosene with their CASH ready.
COD is the prevalent term of payment for any deal over here. If you can deliver, you get cash. As simple as that!
Contrary to local realities, a lot has been already said about the "problems" of the poor customers who supposedly do not know how/what/when to buy whatever they wish.
Similarly, in my opinion, enough confusion has also been made on their needs. wants, dreams, demand (actual demand ?)etc...
When facts count, we have reached in Africa, just for example, > 80% market penetration of mobile phones. Mostly paid CASH, with little or no ado. Perhaps it is high time we start considering seriously the supply problem, our real capacity to deliver viable solutions, and hopefully shifting the "blame" from the cash holding customers, for a change.

Best regards,



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