Our Trip to Kenya: Part 3 - What did we learn?

Our recent trip to Kenya was important; it allowed us to hear from families who have been using GravityLight; you can read about all of the positive feedback in the previous two blogs in this series.

The benefits of GravityLight are clear - it is independent of batteries, doesn’t rely on the weather, it doesn’t need to be pre-charged outside at risk of theft, and it saves people money previously spent on kerosene lamps.

However, designing a distribution strategy that clearly communicates this is a big job, especially with a technology that is new and unknown. So we also used the trip to gather feedback from partners on how to develop a sustainable and scalable distribution strategy, critical to a successful launch.

Teaming up with organisations like GiveWatts, Burn, The Haller Foundation and Livelihoods has helped us gain valuable insights on what’s needed to launch GravityLight this Autumn:

1. Product demos and ‘word of mouth’ are key:

People find it difficult to ‘trust’ new products and brands – especially when the technology is unlike anything else that they are familiar with. To overcome this scepticism and fear of the unknown, it is vital to have leaders, trendsetters and influencers endorsing GravityLight. That influencer doesn’t have to be a local celeb or village elder, it could just be your friend or neighbour too.

The innovative nature of GravityLight means that demonstrations are key – people need to understand how this new light works and see it working, whether at a market demo or at their neighbour’s house. Would they really believe a bag of rocks can generate light otherwise?

Burn helped us to understand this as they emphasised the importance of demonstration, through both their practices and products. Through a consistent programme of demonstrations and knowledgeable sales agents, Burn’s Jikokoa cookstoves have cultivated a strong reputation for quality, vital in building networks of trust. Demonstrating in both supermarkets and on market days, local consumers experience the product first hand and know exactly what it is that they will be investing in.

For GravityLight to launch successfully in Kenya, we have realised that we need to build a similar model of demonstrations and community-level advocacy. We’ll keep you updated with how these plans evolve ahead of launch.

2. The critical period is after a sale: 

Just as positive word of mouth is significant in a sale, so too is following up with early adaptors of our technology to ensure that they are satisfied. GravityLight has been designed to be robust and long lasting. Offering a warranty and working with distribution partners that can honour these will be core to GravityLight’s value proposition.

GravityLight is new – and whilst we are confident that we have developed a high preforming and rigorously tested product, we need to be ready to handle questions and queries from GravityLight users.  We’ll be doing this through product training for sales teams, offering free text messages to our support line and regular follow up by sales agents both by text surveys and in person visits. In this way we’ll also be gathering feedback and data on peoples use of GravityLight, the benefits they are experiencing and any issues or recommendations on how it can be improved further.

3. “I cannot afford to buy cheap things”

Living in a household that is currently off the grid does not mean that people give up their aspiration to own quality products. People do not want to invest their savings in technology that is simply ‘functional’ – they also want quality. Whilst commitment to affordability is paramount, the final product offering needs to be something that people are proud to invest in – it is, after all, going to be central to their home environment.

This has been a driver behind the extensive accelerated life testing during the development of GravityLight, our commitment to offering a 1 year warranty, and focus on designing an elegant product that is attractive to customers world-wide.

Summary 

Having a good product is just the beginning. Over the past few months we have learnt that GravityLight must find the right balance between affordable price and quality. Partnerships too will be paramount: only by working with partners that invest in developing sales teams and models that build consumers’ trust – before and after a sale – will GravityLight succeed in scaling.