Our contribution aims to use the power of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to promote WASH behavior change among traditionally marginalized populations. IVR presents a unique medium for providing this content based on soaring mobile penetration rates in India and the ability for voice technology to engage with high proportions of the population by reaching across barriers of literacy, language and logistics.
The basic mechanics involve printing a phone number and unique codes on consumer hygiene and sanitation products – namely soap wrappers and toothpaste packs. Consumers are invited to call these toll-free hotlines through advertisements on radio, television, and word of mouth and enter the unique code. On the first call, the caller will be prompted to enter basic demographic information: gender, preferred language, rural/urban, wealth, education, etc. During subsequent similar calls, behavior change and brand messaging can be tailored to the specific socio-demographics of the caller, their unique calling history, and factors such as time of day (e.g., hand washing messages before dinner; tooth brushing messages in the evening).
Consumers will be incentivized to buy more of the products and engage with the behavior change content through promotions, rewards and the entertaining content itself (“soap” operas). In this way, we are both able to collect rich data from our beneficiaries but also keep them engaged in behavior change messaging around sanitation and hygiene by gamifying their learning experience. Importantly, we will be testing out various incentives (both intrinsic and extrinsic) at the start of our program to see which ones result in the highest engagement rates, and ultimately in getting people to wash their hands with soap.
This same principle can be applied to any products supplied by social businesses with the possibility of increasing sales, increasing customer retention, and creating greater impact in the communities that they serve. This model represents a low-risk opportunity to test an innovative approach that would merge social mission behavior change campaigns with brand building.