Marketing of products has always been an overriding concern in micro enterprise promotion. In the early days, the predominant method to promote sales of products made by Kudumbashree micro enterprises was to encourage and support local governments and CDSs to organise local fairs. When these fairs became regular, they came to be known as ‘monthly markets’.
Monthly markets proved to be important platforms for Kudumbashree producers to put their produce on display and sell; these have also been learning places for entrepreneurs as they could see how customers looked for products and what prompted buying behaviour. Exposure to the market place generated new demands on product and performance improvement.
As the Kudumbashree network became increasingly aware of the relevance of monthly markets, the Mission started providing more and more support to organising them. In 2011, Kudumbashree Mission issued guidelines for monthly markets. By this time, in several local governments, monthly markets had become weekly markets, and even permanent markets. Several local governments built or provided spaces for such markets.
Fairs and Exhibitions
Kudumbashree stalls have become a regular feature in the fairs organised as part of annual festivals or large events across the State. These fairs have helped in enhancing Kudumbashree’s visibility and also in establishing Kudumbashree as a popular brand. Kudumbashree groups participate in the India International Trade Fair, an annual event held in New Delhi, as part of Kerala Pavilion.
Kudumbashree entrepreneurs participate in State level and district level fairs organised as part of annual festivals and events. Participation in local and regional festivals and fairs have also become a common practice. In 2012, Kudumbashree Mission issued guidelines governing participation in such events and festivals.
Sales and Marketing Enterprises (SME) Scheme
Kudumbashree Mission introduced a new scheme to support sales based enterprises in 2010-11. The scheme has been designed to address the specific requirements of enterprises developed around sales as the central function. Home shop is a model that has evolved under the SME scheme.
Exploring marketing avenues for the products of Kudumbashree enterprises has led to the evolution of different approaches and models. Over the years, the Kudumbashree brand has gained significant acceptance across Kerala. However, only very limited number of products are sold through established channels. Direct to home sales, markets organised in connection with events, and fairs conducted during festival seasons are the main avenues for sale of Kudumbashree products.
Home shop is a model emerged out of the explorations for establishing marketing channels for Kudumbashree products. Home shop is a community marketing network of members of Kudumbashree families.
Home shop network has three components.
- These are micro enterprise units associated with Kudumbashree producing a wide range of products
- Home shop owners
- These are individual entrepreneurs from Kudumbashree families running their businesses on zero investment; the home shop owners do direct selling of products to households in their area
- Management team
- A professional team with members drawn from Kudumbashree families; works as an enterprise by itself, links the producers and home shops, and takes care of distribution management and finances.
Pilot project in home shop was initiated in Kodakara block in Thrissur district in 2007. It was the block panchayat that implemented the pilot project.
Before scaling up the model, a two-day State level workshop was organised at Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA). Representatives of local governments attended the workshop, which dealt with the concept and operational procedures for home shop. Kudumbashree had developed detailed guidelines on community marketing in order to support such entrepreneurs.
Home shop offers to provide a solution to the marketing problem faced by micro enterprises. While the model links micro enterprises and home based sales entrepreneurs, it offers households an opportunity to ‘buy at the doorstep’.
Functioning of the Home Shop Network
Home shop is about relationship marketing; the home shop owners take the products directly to the households; as the visits are regular, consumers enjoy credit purchase also. Typically there are one or two home shops in a ward of a gram panchayat.
The management team identify the product and enterprises and specify the quality standards and packing requirements. The management team then purchases the products and distributes to the home shops. The home shop owners store the products and reach households for selling the products at regular intervals, in dates known to the families.
There is a feedback mechanism that contributes to improvement in product quality.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Stakeholder Groups
- Purchasing raw materials and producing goods as per specifications from the management team
- Supplying products on demand
- Quality improvement as per feedback from management team
- Identifying suitable products from Kudumbashree entrepreneurs
- Developingquality and packaging protocols for producers
- Selection and training of home shop owners (HSO)
- Selection and training of facilitators
- Developing intermediate storage facilities
- Arranging suitable transportation facilities
- Purchasing products from producers and distributing it to home shop owners on demand
- Making monthly payment to producers
- Communicating quality feedback to producers and monitoring improvements in quality
- Accounting and audit
- Developing new market promotion strategies (Best HSO award function organised at GP level, incentives at all levels etc.)
- Conducting regular review of HSOs and facilitators/coordinators
- Part of management team, linkage between management team and home shop owners
- Taking orders from HSOs and managing stock at intermediate storage centres preferably blocks
- Ensuring timely supply of products
- Collecting money from HSOs and handing it over to the management team.
- Communicating feedback of HSOs to management team
- Addressing capability issues of HSOs
- Field support to HSOs whenever necessary
Home shop owners
- Visit houses at regular intervals and sell products
- Estimate demand of products
- Collect money from households
- Payment of products to facilitators at pre-decided intervals
- Communicate feedback of consumers to facilitators
- Place orders to the management team through coordinators or facilitators
- Attend monthly review meetings