Scott Anderson

SC Johnson Expands BoP Product Initiative in Ghana

At the 2010 Net Impact Conference, I took in a session about SC Johnson’s venture to supply cleaning products to entrepreneurs for sanitizing public bathrooms in Kenya. The goal was to reduce the spread of diarrhea caused by unsanitized bathrooms. Dubbed “Community Cleaning Services” (CCS), the initiative aimed to generate revenue from the operators of fee-based public and communal toilets in apartment blocks. The public toilet operators sell access to latrines to patrons, and use a portion of those revenues to pay CCS workers using a range of SC Johnson products to maintain those facilities. Check out a case study on CCS here.

As a wrote back then, the Net Impact session also mentioned a much earlier stage program developed by Cornell’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise with funding from SC Johnson and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was investigating how to create a sustainable business around preventing malaria in Ghana. At the time, early field work had begun around the idea of selling SC Johnson household pest control products like Raid and Off spray to base of the pyramid customers.

This week SC Johnson announced it was expanding the business concept, called WOW, to Yilo Krobo District of southeastern Ghana, and will begin offering newly-bundled mosquito control products as well as home-cleaning products. This comes two years after the initial pilot in Bobikuma, Ghana.

According to the announcement, the two-year consumer research effort has resulted in a better mix of products and has even helped create new offerings that combine home cleaning and insect repellent qualities in one bottle. (The full press release including the products being offered is below).

The model relies on sales agents living in Yilo Krobo District to market the products and inform consumers on how to use them. SC Johnson also detailed a new subscriber-based model to keep consumers stocked in the release:

“Customers can subscribe to a monthly bundle of four different SC Johnson products in refillable formats. They also can opt into a Loyalty Rewards program which offers a monthly subscription to earn points to exchange for higher-priced durable products – ultimately giving customers a way to pay slowly over time for items they value.”
No pricing was announced beyond describing the products as “affordable.” Considering it was four years in the making, the expansion shows how long these projects can take to develop, and the patience required to come up with the right product mix. Whether SC Johnson has actually done that is still to be determined. But the very fact that this has moved from pilot to business unit is exciting to see.

SC Johnson photo and press release:

SC Johnson Expands WOW® Business Concept in Ghana Company Continues to Explore New Business Concepts to Prevent Malaria Transmission

RACINE, Wis., Oct. 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — For billions of people around the world the threat of a malaria infection is an everyday reality. To help reduce disease in these rural areas, today SC Johnson announced the expansion of WOW™, a business concept that creates access to pest control products that can help prevent malaria in at-risk populations at the base of the pyramid (BoP), as well as home-cleaning and personal care products valued by rural consumers. WOW™ is now available in the Yilo Krobo District of Ghana, and features new and improved product options.

In 2012, WOW® began as a partnership among SC Johnson, Cornell University’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When the initial pilot launched in Bobikuma, Ghana, the program allowed consumers to purchase SC Johnson products, and learn about the importance of avoiding mosquito bites, and keeping their homes clean. The WOW® expansion builds on two years of extensive, in-home consumer research and insights which resulted in a better product bundle, and an improved business structure that better reflects consumer needs and enables a more sustainable business model.

“Malaria continues to be a threat in many countries, and one that’s entirely preventable. Expanding the WOW® business is the result of our extensive research and engagement with Ghanaian families,” said Mark Martin, Vice President of International Markets Marketing, SC Johnson. “Our new product offering reflects the feedback from consumers, and brings solutions that will help families work toward malaria prevention.”

According to the World Health Organization, in 2013, 97 countries had ongoing malaria transmission. An estimated 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria – of which 1.2 billion are at high risk. In high-risk areas, more than one malaria case occurs per 1,000 population.

Testing and Learning: Building a Sustainable Business Model in Ghana

The improved WOW® program includes operational changes that reflect key learnings from the pilot. Local sales agents in the Yilo Krobo District will sell WOW™ products in the communities in which they live, and coach consumers about product use and benefits.

Customers can subscribe to a monthly bundle of four different SC Johnson products in refillable formats. They also can opt into a Loyalty Rewards program which offers a monthly subscription to earn points to exchange for higher-priced durable products – ultimately giving customers a way to pay slowly over time for items they value.

“Since our initial launch of WOW®, we’ve learned so much about what consumers in Ghana want and how to construct a sustainable business model in the process,” said Martin. “We continue to test and learn new ideas as we expand this business, but we remain focused on our ultimate goal to help families living at the base of the pyramid prevent future malaria infections.”

New Products Better Aligned For Ghanaians’ Needs

The new WOW™ product bundle reflects local consumer and purchasing insights gathered by SC Johnson’s BoP research and development team, who lived among rural Ghanaian residents.

For example, the team learned that customers want to get the most value from their purchases due to limited financial resources, so most of the new WOW™ products are multi-purpose. BoP researchers also discovered that customers value fragrance, an important factor affecting home product purchasing decisions. This led to Mr Muscle® All-In-One Cleaner being reformulated for use on dishes, laundry and a variety of surfaces, and a fresh lemon scent was added.

The new WOW™ bundle features six products from which customers can choose four. These include:

  • Raid® Dual Action Insect Repellent & Home Freshener: This new product format provides customers with protection against mosquitoes via a spray bottle and a colorful poster, decorated with a well-known Ghanaian adinkra symbol. Product is applied to the poster every three days to release a floral fragrance and the mosquito repellent.
  • Mr Muscle® All-In-One Cleaner: Mr Muscle® cleaner is designed specifically to clean multiple surfaces, dishes and laundry.
  • OFF!® Cooling Body Spray With Insect Repellent: This product combines three attributes Ghanaian customers desire – fragrance, relief from a humid climate and mosquito protection – into an easy-to-use spray bottle.
  • OFF!® Insect Repellent Lotion With Aloe Vera: OFF® lotion provides up to six hours of protection from mosquitoes and can be used anywhere. It also contains Aloe Vera to help soothe skin.
  • Raid® Multi Insect Killer: This new formula kills many types of insects on contact, including cockroaches, ants, flies and mosquitoes and includes a light fragrance. It leaves a protective residue that continues killing insects for up to a month.
  • Kids Cooling Patch: This non-medicated product delivers immediate cooling relief from fever discomfort, and is safe to use on babies and children older than three months.

A Commitment to Communities at the BoP

Since 2003, SC Johnson has been exploring how to create successful, mutually beneficial BoP enterprises. A large emphasis of SC Johnson’s work has been focused on using products like OFF!®, to fight insect-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue. The company opened China’s first entomology research center in Shanghai in 2013, and boasts the world’s largest private urban entomology research center, established in 1968 in Racine, Wis. At these centers, research and engineering professionals work diligently to develop pest control products that are effective, affordable and easy to use.

For more information about SC Johnson and its base of the pyramid initiatives, visit

About SC Johnson

SC Johnson is a family company dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. Based in the USA, the company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, pest control and shoe care. It markets such well-known brands as GLADE®, KIWI®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC® in the U.S. and beyond, with brands marketed outside the U.S. including AUTAN®, TANA®, BAMA®, BAYGON®, BRISE®, KABIKILLER®, KLEAR®, MR MUSCLE®, and RIDSECT®. The 128-year-old company, that generates $9 billion in sales, employs nearly 13,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world.

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Base of the Pyramid, microfinance