Airtime For Selling More Condoms: Social Marketing Tricks and Tips from Tanzania

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Jul 22, 2010
Airtime For Selling More Condoms: Social Marketing Tricks and Tips from Tanzania data sheet 5766 Views

In Tanzania, a non-profit organization is using airtime as an incentive for increased condom sales. “Ongeo Zaidi na Salama,” or “Talk More with Salama,” offers mobile airtime incentives to shopkeepers who stock and sell condoms (Salama, which means 'safe', is the largely PSI-distributed Tanzanian condom brand), bringing greater visibility to safe sex practices.  

The program, run by Population Services International, an organization widely known for pioneering condom social marketing since the 1970s and 1980s, was developed in reaction to the lack of condoms in Tanzanian stores.

85 million condoms at 100,000 retail outlets were sold in 2009, with the vast majority distributed by PSI. Because the PSI-distributed condoms are subsidized, they are considered lower-value by the shopkeepers than other products as they have low profit margins. Retailers were also reliant on the PSI agents to push and deliver the product and were not incentivised to proactively requests re-supplies when their condom stocks ran low. As a result, promotion and requisition (and sales) of these Salama condoms is not a priority for shopkeepers.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The goal of the project is to encourage vendors to buy condoms from wholesale distributers and to display them prominently in their shops. 

Brief description of the project: 

"Ongea Zaidi na Salama," which means "Talk More with Salama" is a social marketing venture to encourage shopkeepers in Tanzania to regularly buy and stock condoms for their stores in order to promote higher condom use rates. The program, run by the non-profit organization PSI, uses a scratch card reward system; shopkeepers who buy condoms from wholesale suppliers get scratch cards that provide them with additional airtime for their phones. 

Target audience: 

The target audience is shopkeepers in rural and urban areas in Tanzania. 

Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 
  • Improved targeting of condoms towards areas with low sales but higher incidence rates of HIV.
  • PSI was able to find partners in telecommunications companies and public health partners in the various regions of the country who promote condom use and safe sex practices
  • The program was widely picked up in all regions on Tanzania 
  • The large mobile penetration in Tanzania and user comfort level with SMS meant that the program was reasonably easy to learn for shopkeepers
  • Ability to monitor and measure results and develop better evidence-based approaches to sexual health. 
  • Ability to survey shop keepers on specific aspects of the program, sales, and promotions.


What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Challenges included:

  • Finding a balance between the amount of money needed to offer on the scratchcards to make the program financially attractive to shopkeepers while keeping the costs within the confines of a budget. 
  • Budgeting for the cost of the physical scratchcards
  • Developing an effective payment system with questions such as whether the payments were subject to the Tanzanian bank regulatory system? 
  • Working with tech companies that are not experts in public health - requires very clear objectives and requirements which can be hard when it's a new field and requirements can be fluid 
  • Usability of the system - a lot of people found it hard to find the * key on their phones to register and redeem the scratch cards.
  • Developing an easy-to-use toll free number presented challenges
  • Finding the right staff for a database administrator
  • Stil on 1% of retailers and so data is not representative yet for the overall target audience
  • Incorrect data or imcomplete data submitted by shop retailers can be a challenge - about 10% of retailers of the pilot