Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL)

Fighting vector-borne diseases and creating shared value through the Godrej EMBED Programme

Introduction to the Company

The Godrej Group is a large industrial conglomerate with headquarters in Mumbai, India. Established in 1897, the family-run company has its roots in India’s independence and Swadeshi (economic self-sufficiency) movement. Contributing to inclusive and sustainable growth in the areas where it operates is a core part of the Group’s values and business strategy. 24 percent of the holding company of the Godrej Group is held in a trust that invests in the environment, health and education. The Group currently has subsidiaries and affiliated businesses in consumer goods, real estate, chemicals, and agriculture, serving 1.1 billion consumers globally.

Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL), the consumer goods arm, has a size of over $1.5 billion. To achieve its ambitious goal to grow tenfold by 2020 from its size in 2010, GCPL is focused on expanding in emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. By 2020, the company is committed to creating a more employable workforce and building a greener India through innovating socially ‘good’ and environmentally ‘green’ products.

Introduction to the Approach

Elimination of Mosquito Borne Endemic Disease (Project EMBED) is GCPL’s effort to eliminate mosquito-borne endemic diseases using a shared value approach. It aims to reduce morbidity and mortality due to vector-borne diseases through education and communication campaigns in communities combined with improved access to low-cost household insecticides in these remote, rural geographies. The company is measuring the impact of this project on society and on the business using several input, output, and outcome level indicators that are intended to inform decisions by a range of stakeholders including the Indian government, which has set a goal to eliminate malaria by 2030. 

Key Lessons

  • Taking a shared value approach and demonstrating the relationship between investments in behaviour change and driving usage of household insecticides, especially in rural geographies, helped gain internal support from the business.
  • Measuring behaviour change requires careful selection of indicators to ensure they reflect increases in reporting that happens as a result of better awareness.
  • Control groups can help isolate the impact of different interventions and provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of individual interventions and when implemented together.
Stage 1: Frame

Understand social capital and its relevance to the business

Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases are a major public health threat in India. 95 percent of the population lives in malaria endemic areas, with 1.1 million new malaria cases, and nearly 100,000 new dengue cases reported every year. 80 percent of cases occur among the 20 percent of the population that lives in tribal, hilly, and hard-to-reach areas.

As market leaders in the household insecticide category in India, GCPL has always felt a responsibility to develop solutions tailored to the needs of low-income population, who disproportionately suffer from mosquito-related diseases. The company undertook a feasibility study to determine gaps in the use of insecticide. 

This feasibility study included the following steps:

  • Identifying high disease burden states that were also product-dark areas for the company
  • Carrying out a communication needs assessment (CNA) to determine the knowledge and resource gaps, which became the basis for the company’s communication strategy for information and education.
  • Identifying and training local NGO workers to execute the communication campaigns and support the training of health workers.
  • Partnering with NGO workers who would serve as coordinators for both communication campaigns and ensuring access to affordable mosquito repellent products in remote geographies where they were not previously available.

These steps ensured that the program was linked not only to an assessment of the local health situation and services on the ground, but also the company’s potential for business growth in the area. 

Identify the business case and potential business decisions

GCPL approached the opportunity to tackle vector-borne diseases in India from a shared value perspective. From the business side, product innovation, value chain resilience, and securing a license to operate were all important drivers for developing Project EMBED, which is GCPL’s effort to eliminate vector-borne diseases. The company also aimed to strengthen its presence and distribution in rural markets, and provide increased access to affordable mosquito repellent products to bottom-of the pyramid users. By interacting with rural audiences and understanding their unmet needs, the company could also gain insights into rural consumers, and apply it towards product and service growth innovation. An initial calculation revealed that it costs 10 cents per family to protect them from malaria, which helped put the program into terms that the business could understand.

The company was also interested to collaborate with various stakeholders to tackle a serious public health challenge. The Indian government aims to eliminate malaria by 2030 and GCPL aimed to contribute to this agenda by prioritizing the health of tribal and other vulnerable populations living in hard-to-reach areas. Through the EMBED program, GCPL demonstrates alignment with this key government priority. As a market leader of household insecticides in India, the company is keen to be a thought leader in the space of mosquito prevention and demonstrate its expertise in mosquito management and related disease prevention.

Stage 2: Scope

Determine target audience and objectives

The objective of project EMBED is to reduce mortality and morbidity caused by mosquito- borne diseases, especially malaria and dengue with information for and education of communities through behaviour change communication (BCC) campaigns and by ensuring access to affordable mosquito-repellent products and services to vulnerable groups.

GCPL approached the measurement of the project from both the business and societal lens. The company wanted to understand the effectiveness of the behaviour change communication campaigns and outreach in communities on prevention strategies, including the use of household insecticides, which will ultimately result in a reduction in the incidence of malaria.

Set boundaries 

Two regions, Mandla and Dindori, were selected for a pilot. These two regions include over 500 villages, and are home to large tribal populations living in hilly areas. Geographical areas were selected based on a mapping of high priority disease-burden areas and product dark areas for the company’s business.

The company has committed to each region for 3 years and plans to continuously scale EMBED to other districts in Madhya Pradesh and neighbouring states. The project was designed to enable long-term sustainability by empowering both the local panchayats and community members to take charge of their protection against these diseases. By the end of 2017, the company aims to reach 40% of the population in Madhya Pradesh, which is more than 28.8 million people.

Define the impact pathway

The theory of change for the EMBED project is based on an impact pathway that begins with the processes and key project activities, and runs through to the envisaged impact on society and the business. In addition to the behaviour change campaign, the company also sold its product at cost (50% of retail price) to the local NGO and developed a new distribution network by leveraging the local presence of the NGO and their access to existing Kirana stores. In the process, these representatives were given the opportunity to be entrepreneurs that could help reach rural communities with access to household insecticides.

Key elements of the impact pathway include:

Processes: Engagement of various stakeholders in community mobilization and BCC activities;

Outputs: Participation of adult community members in group communication activities and exposure to key messages through media; capacity building of public and private health care providers to enable access to malaria and dengue services; and uptake in sale of quality mosquito repellents; collaboration with local panchayat officials on execution of vector control measures

Intermediate Results: Change in knowledge, behaviours and practices with respect to prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria and dengue;

Outcomes: Sustainable change in behaviour and continued access to services for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria and dengue; and sustainability of the project for the long term

Impact: Decrease in malaria and dengue related mortality and morbidity 

Stage 3: Measure and Value

Select appropriate valuation technique  

The company focused on collecting quantitative project information, recognizing that this provided an objective and standardized way to measure the impact of interventions. It used Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) Surveys to determine the efficacy of the behaviour change campaigns and district epidemiological data to determine the number of people being tested for malaria and the number of positive cases of malaria. The company also captures business metrics such as the volume and value of mosquito repellent products sold.

Choose indicators and metrics

The two primary indicators used are: number of persons getting tested for malaria and the number of positive cases of malaria. In addition, the company collects:

  • Socio-economic profiles of target community members and health care providers
  • Knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to malaria and dengue of community members and health care providers (baseline data)
  • Epidemiological data on malaria and dengue for intervention districts (baseline data)
  • Value and volume of mosquito repellent products sold- a proxy used to track usage and adoption of preventive services among the community members.

The following graphic captures the key input, output, and outcome indicators from both a societal and business perspective.

GCPL EMBED project: key metrics (1 Lakh=100,000)

Undertake and/or commission valuation

For the epidemiological data, GCPL relied on government data, which is often underreported. It was important to keep this in mind when measuring impact and the efficacy of interventions. For the other indicators, primary data is collected at regular intervals; at baseline, concurrent monitoring at 3 month intervals, and at end of the project. The company ensures that data collection is performed by an independent expert, and uses a control group (for comparative purposes) that has improved access to household insecticides, but does not receive the behaviour change communication. 

Stage 4: Apply and Integrate

Apply results to key business decisions 

GCPL is in the first year of the project and thus, has initial results from the baseline and first round of concurrent monitoring. The company anticipates having actionable data post July 2017. Nonetheless, the preliminary data available has helped guide the company’s distribution and sales in remote geographies, along with targeted marketing to consumers. The results indicate a 2% increase in testing for malaria in the first 6 months. The company has now decided to invest in an Individual Voice Response (IVR) campaign across the state, as well as the neighbouring states of Jharkhand and Bihar, to further enforce awareness building and knowledge creation.

Integrate social capital into business processes 

Lessons from the project will help inform the company’s rural marketing strategy, strengthen sales and distribution networks, and lay the foundation for a sustainable model even after the project has been completed.

This project has gained recognition by the international community namely, winning the Porter Prize for creating shared value, and featuring in Fortune Magazine’s ‘Change the World’ List. As such GCPL  is acquiring prominence as a thought leader in the space of vector control, and company representatives are now active participants in government initiatives such as the national framework for malaria elimination and other shared value discussions.

Contribute to mainstreaming

The project team provides regular reports to senior management and relevant internal stakeholders on the progress of the project. Additionally, the team is regularly involved in local government activities and shares experiences directly with communities. The positive reception to the initiative has led to increased demand by communities to engage GCPL in training local teams on effective behaviour change communication. The company is providing various resources and evidence-based materials to these communities.

Internally, the senior management is very encouraged by the momentum gained so far. The company plans to scale up the project to 4 more districts in Madhya Pradesh and is working towards expanding to neighbouring states as well. GCPL is also exploring partnerships with the Group’s real estate arm, Godrej Properties Limited, and agribusiness, Godrej Agrovet, to expand reach in communities and rural populations, where they have a strong presence, respectively. As the project progresses, the company plans to continue to improve upon the impact assessment approach by adding more indicators and undertaking comparative studies between its intervention sites.