In Question § Reaching Rural Market/People

Reaching Market/People

Image ©SheelDamani

A recent Brand Equity (BE) article, an Economic Times supplement, spoke about marketing experts taking lessons from the road. The article describes being a senior marketing professional as anything but a white-collar job. Their real work is in the field, around people, their behavior, culture and access to resources, they say. Maruti’s managing executive director, Mayank Prateek has visited over 500 districts says ‘Lessons from the Road.’ Several interesting travel tales are unfolded, which add dimension to marketing and consumer reality.

One of them narrated by the President and CEO at Coca-Cola, Atul Singh.

While visiting a rural market in Northern India, Uttar Pradesh— he noticed that outlets were operating out of very little ice. Due to erratic electricity supply across the country, most people in remote areas suffer loss of perishable goods. Also, as a result, the sales of Coke was affected in the area as the drink wasn’t chilled enough.


eKOCOOL: Coca-Cola’s Refrigerator.
Image courtesy:

“…Soon after Coca-cola deployed solar coolers in the affected areas. Interestingly, most of the retail premises the coolers headed to are managed and run by women…” — says BE. Singh closes with “…Market visits are therefore a part of the plan when I am traveling. Even otherwise my leadership team and I spend time with consumers and in the marketplace to keep our finger on the pulse.”

Note: Coca-cola provided access to a resource with green energy to sell. Intention is to increase sales, expand distribution channels with minimum footprint on the environment.

I looked up the solar cooler. It is called, eKOCOOL. It’s quite a differentiator. With systematic branding and more. Beats the heat. Charges mobile phones during power cuts. For details on ‘how it flew at villages’, go to Sustainability Outlook.

On the contrary, let me take you to the south of India for another rural project— Off Grid Cooling Systems for Dairy Farmers.

Off-Grid Cooling System

Image Courtesy: Jesse Van De Zand,

This solution is a work in progress, proposed by

The story via HCD connect goes this way: “…Enviu has taken on the challenge to improve the ‘Cold Chain’ in India. We work on a smart cool box that will help Indian dairy farmers to store and transport their milk. This way farmers and their traders don’t need to “race against the clock” anymore to sell the milk before spoilage. The quality of their products increase and so do their revenues…”

Note: An effort, by a Netherlands based organization to protect dairy farmers’ business and community. Increase income via increment in shelf life of the product.

I am unaware of the temperature specifics needed for dairy products to retain nutrition and essence. Against an aerated cola that needs very low temperatures to be relished, we can’t take nutrition in account here.

A win-win for all: Solar coolers, eKOCOOL supplied to dairy farmers, also issued authorization as coke retailers for extra income. Women to manage the coke outlet alongside. Supported by a large multi-national that takes care of the distribution network. Makes case of a good CSR initiative to sustain dairy farming (+ coke sales targets!). #justsaying

Surprisingly, CSR initiative page of Coca-Cola India skips solar coolers and speaks of education, clean drinking water and many other things with a chain of environmental awards. Wonder why a search on eKOCOOL shows only two posts in the press-center section. #curious

Coke’s CSR Sustainability Report 2010, can be a pretty read.

There’s more. Going west of India, to Wankaner (Gujarat)—a grass-root innovator is MittiCool and pretty cool.

He has designed a refrigerator with clay, accessible to people in remote areas. Mitticool is now an ISO 9001 product and there are many that are on display here. An urban mimic with a biodegradable material.

Mitticool Refrigerator: Detailed PDF

Image Courtesy: (report on innovation)

Note: provides access to increase the life of perishable daily products. Aids in sustenance for people with simple lives in remote areas; aims to build urban ‘amenities’ at a local price + materials.

Design indicates intention.

Everyone here has noble intentions in their respective directions. There might be a larger impact by combining forces. Let me know what you think, we need voices. And voices to be heard :)

*Still Reading?

Random disclaimer: This article is purely an opinionated interpretation of my understanding. No one has influenced me to write the way this appears. Thank you for reading it.


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