The good thing about social enterprises is that they marry social good with wealth creation while striving for causes such as sustainable development and better socio-economic equations. Despite this, finding products that “sell” should be the focus of every social enterprise.
In business, whether you are running a social enterprise or a commercial one, the laws of attraction remain the same… cash counters will ring if you have a great product. This is why merely championing the cause of the handicapped, the blind, slum dwellers or the like is not enough. Your product should be the core of your business for 3 reasons…
It Is the Core of the Marketing Mix
For all those who are clueless about marketing jargon, the marketing mix is the battery of devices that a firm uses to influence its target market. These devices include product, price, physical distribution and promotion.
Having said that… .the product is the core of the marketing mix of any firm, be it a social enterprise or a commercial venture. If you are running a for profit social enterprise you need to focus on developing a good product. It is the foundation on which your business is going to be built.
Under The Mango Tree (UTMT), is a for profit social enterprise which has a broad product portfolio organic Certified USDA NOP, EEC 2092/91 and NPOP cereals; pulses; cotton, tea, vegetable & plant based oils; various essential oils; herbs, spices; , sea buckthorn products, medicinal & aromatic herbs other botanicals such as aloe vera, soap nuts; honey and beeswax. But their flagship product is single flora gourmet honey which is produced by “The Hive”, its endeavor to promote community-based beekeeping.
Choosing a flagship product makes sense as it is the biggest revenue generator for a firm. If the product is good people will be willing to shell out a price for it.
It Is Your Biggest Weapon
In marketing warfare, a good product is the biggest weapon in a firm’s marketing armory. Thunk in India, Suren Vikash’s Banglaore based venture churns out recycled products are made of 90% waste and 10% new material. For instance, the outer covering of a laptop bag is made of recycled plastic, but it is fitted with new zippers and straps to make the bag look attractive and durable.
The USP of laptop bags, table mats, shoulder bags and pouches using shredded plastic bags and Tetra Pak is that they are competitively priced… a Tetra Pak photo frame costing Rs50 and a shredded plastic laptop bag priced at Rs1,500.
Your product is what sets you apart. Particularly when you have to compete with commercial products which adopt in your face promotional methods, a good product that sells itself is an added advantage simply because you cut down on promotional expenditure.
Products Are Solutions
As a social enterprise, your product should represent a solution. For instance eCoexist’s, Rang Dulaar, a range of natural Holi colors and eco-friendly Ganesha idols are solutions in themselves.
The natural Holi colors are made from natural ingredients like dried flowers and beetroot; they are prepared by SHG’s in Karnataka and packaged by prisoners in Yerwada jail, Pune. The process provides gainful employment to so many underprivileged groups and the product solves the problem that artificial colors can create like skin irritation, rashes and harm to the eyes.
The Ganesha idols made from sadu mitti (an eco-friendly alternative to plaster of Paris) are made by traditional idol makers and reduce the problem of contamination of water bodies which is caused by plaster of Paris idols that are more commonly used.
Coming up with products like these is an endeavor towards providing people with solutions to pressing problems. The products find takers simply because of this element.
This piece was necessary to put things in proper perspective for social entrepreneurs. Before you go about setting up your venture zero in on a flagship product first and then set out on your entrepreneurial journey. Bon Voyage!
Image credit: m3_fs