PuR, the water purification product sold in small sachets, had suffered a string of failed market tests, but the public health benefits of the product had been demonstrated repeatedly in bottom of the pyramid (BOP) markets where finding clean drinking water can be a daily nightmare. Part of its global CSR initiative, P&G move the product from the commercial to the Corporate Sustainable Development (CSD) unit, which took the pressure off PuR brand managers to meet market sales projections. This move created new pressures, however, for those managing CSR initiatives - to take the product global on a philanthropy budget. Partnering with Population Services International (PSI), the global NGO with offices in over 65 countries, and expertise in social marketing, P&G would play a supporting role. Building a sustainable social market for water treatment, in places like Haiti and Uganda, presented challenges, but also presented unexpected benefits, measured in terms of P&G's stakeholder engagement.
This case offers a rich setting in which to explore the fundamentals of social marketing, and business-social sector partnering. P&G, the global consumer products giant, works in a supporting role with the global non-profit giant, PSI to launch a series of safe water public awareness campaigns, and PuR sachet product launches. With social marketing data from PSI product launches in Central America and Africa, the case illustrates the opportunities and challenges presented by social marketing ventures in BOP markets - including media characteristics, distribution infrastructure, behavior change strategies, and financing. It also allows for a broader discussion on corporate social responsibility and stakeholder engagement.