Piloting Improved Cookstoves in India
Despite the potential of improved cookstoves to reduce the adverse environmental and health impacts of solid fuel use, their adoption and use remains low. Social marketing—with its focus on the marketing mix of promotion, product, price, and place—offers a useful way to understand household behaviors and design campaigns to change biomass fuel use. We report on a series of pilots across 3 Indian states that use different combinations of the marketing mix. We find sales varying from 0% to 60%. Behavior change promotion that combined door-to-door personalized demonstrations with information pamphlets was effective. When given a choice amongst products, households strongly preferred an electric stove over improved biomass-burning options. Among different stove attributes, reduced cooking time was considered most valuable by those adopting a new stove. Households clearly identified price as a significant barrier to adoption, while provision of discounts (e.g., rebates given if households used the stove) or payments in installments were related to higher purchase. Place-based factors such as remoteness and nongovernmental organization operations significantly affected the ability to supply and convince households to buy and use improved cookstoves. Collectively, these pilots point to the importance of continued and extensive testing of messages, pricing models, and different stove types before scale-up. Thus, we caution that a one-size-fits-all approach will not boost improved cookstove adoption.