Market penetration of safe water at the base of the pyramid (BoP) in India

by Viola Zoller


Access to clean drinking water is a basic requirement for a decent living and a prerequisite for the realisation of other human rights. Although government organisations, development aid initiatives and private entities have put effort in mastering this challenge, millions of people all over the world are still affected by contaminated water and its negative impact on human health and economic development.

In regard to this severe situation, the following thesis aims to provide a deeper understanding of the diverse aspects of the drinking water situation in India and outlines various ways forward. It focuses on the social-business TARA (headquartered in India) and its product Aqua+ (a water purification liquid). To reach the target market (low-income households in rural areas) effective and efficient distribution channels are the key to success. Therefore, a field study was conducted to evaluate the current distribution network, as well as to gain a better understanding of (prospective) consumers. Based on these findings, recommendations are given on how to enhance the current distribution system as well as new models suggested. These findings will support TARA by showing ways to increase the reach and effectiveness of the existing Aqua+ business model and distribution system.

The field study revealed that the consumers are generally happy with the product and experience a positive change in their well-being. Having said that, non-consumers do not think that it is necessary to treat their water as they are not aware about the importance of safe drinking water. Moreover, the study showed that trust in people and brands are critical and channel partners need to be adequately motivated.

Two new channel models are developed on the basis of the study as well as the discussed theory. TARA could form new partnerships with well-established large companies or implement a system in which Aqua+ is sold in local shops and at the same time through door-to-door sellers.

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