A typical low-income household in a developing nation requires purchase of toiletries in small volumes such as 10 mL. Their financial circumstances prevent them from buying in bulk due to lack of disposable income. The frequency in which family members need this purchase is often variable. But the amount of waste generated from these sachets, at the end of a year is enormous. What if they get all these toiletries in just one box per person for the whole year?
Take example of typical Indian household. Before the plastics and sachet economy made its way into small villages in India, the use of cosmetics, such as talcum powder was common. During this time, these would be stored in metal (Aluminum or copper), glass or wooden boxes called ‘dibbi’ (डिब्बी). One can use the similar form of storage but with a modern material called ‘Polylactic acid’.
(The publicity video about this product, also explaining the issue of sachets waste in the local language of Maharashtra, India)
Plastic made from polylactic acid is biodegradable. It can be used to make a small sized box with a holding capacity of 10 mL of fluid. If required, it can have an additional coating to avoid any chemical interaction with shampoo. The users can buy this container, named ShampooBox from a company which is interested in reducing waste generation due to its products. ShampooBox will have a leak-proof lid. Now, the company will keep refilling containers as
shown in the figure 'A', to refill ShampooBox. One rotation of the knob on the dispenser will deliver product equivalent in portion to volume of a sachet. The cost will be paid with each refill (say Rs.₹2.5 per refill). ShampooBox will have a marking inside to check whether the volume of the refilled product is same as what is mentioned.
This refilling will be done in front of customers directly from the company-provided tamper-proof container. Hence there would not be any chance of mistrust about quality or any doubt about contamination of the product. The cost of ShampooBox will be in the range of cost of one-shot of product (say, ₹ 4/ShampooBox). It has to be bought by customer only once and it will easily last for a year. Since it will be easily washed after every use, it can dry till next day with no efforts and can also be used on every-day basis if required.
The initial ShampooBox can be ordered by sending a text message from mobile phone (upto 4 containers for a mobile number)
The additional cost of ShampooBox for customers will be offset by the reduction in cost of one portion of shampoo (say ₹2.5/portion instead of ₹3/ sachet), since the packaging cost is eliminated. ShampooBox can be made in different shapes for different family members (kids and adults), keeping the holding capacity same.
The assumption is that users will be carrying their container whenever they are going to buy shampoo. I would like to know how can I test this without actually making the ShampooBox with all its features (durability, ease of use, attractive look)?
Prototyping and testing:
I made a video explaining the way the container will be used to refill the shampoo at store and got some feedback from my village (through my volunteer network), which is representative of the BoP community I plan to serve through this product.
How would I get different brands to collaborate for this solution?
If one brand is willing to invest in this new system of shampoo delivery, then the others brands will not want to be left behind. Hence, they will need to necessarily participate in the testing of this system. If it turns out to be working very well in some communities, they can continue their business without lagging behind others.
What is the main assumption/key question that I have about your solution?
The assumption is that users will be carrying their container whenever they are going to buy shampoo. I would like to know how can I test this without actually making the ShampooBox with all its features (durability, ease of use, attractive look)? I plan to make a video explaining the way the container will be used to refill the shampoo at store and get feedback from my village (through my volunteer network), which is representative of the BoP community I plan to serve through this product.
How would I account for high volume periods at refill station? How could you address this?
To avoid the possibility of waiting time for refill in a store, coin-operated shampoo dispensers from different companies will be prototyped and tested in the next stage.
With this solution, could users bring their own containers or other people copy the container?
There is a limitation of brand recognition in the case of users bringing their own container. If the container is given by the shampoo-making company itself, then :
They can have logo of their brand on it
The standard volume of container and measurement markings on it will ensure right quantity of shampoo is delivered
How would you differentiate yourself?
1. Brand recognition
2. Personal touch to the product
3. Benefit to customers from lower price of refill as compared to a sachet
Would this be through the delivery model?
It will be through the existing delivery model.