Creating a Market for Low-Cost Menstrual Hygiene Products in India

Abstract

Unhygienic practices in menstrual management are a major public health concern in India. This issue affects socio-economically vulnerable women in both rural and urban areas. The major challenge for health professionals and policy- makers is addressing myths associated with the biological process of menstruation. These myths make the hygienic management of menstruation difficult, and ultimately lead to school drop-out, loss of productive employment, and many reproductive tract infections and diseases. Traditionally, women use clothes, mud, leaves, dung and animal skins to stop the monthly flow of blood. Sanitary napkins currently available in the market are too expensive for many women. Cost and cultural barriers to access have struck a chord with some social entrepreneurs, such as Better Tomorrow (BT), a non-governmental organization whose aim is to improve women’s health by introducing low-cost sanitary napkins to the marketplace. Young management trainee, Sameera, is working with BT and thinks their product and its price point are good, but she is clueless about the strategy she should suggest for persuading women in the district of Sultanganj (in the central province of India) to buy the low-cost sanitary napkin. Her dilemma concerns attitudinal change towards menstruation, along with espousing the new menstrual management practice using the low-cost sanitary napkin. The case outlines the situation faced by Ms. Sameera by highlighting the objectives of her current assignment, and her understanding of social marketing practices. Students need to assume the role of Ms. Sameera and discuss the steps she can suggest for generating a market for low-cost sanitary napkins. Students are asked to prescribe the strategy as required by BT to roll out its plan. The theory of trying may help students understand the theoretical underpinnings of such a strategy.

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