In 1976, Population Services International (PSI), a non-profit organisation, in agreement with Government of Bangladesh, started a family-planning program through social marketing. The family planning initiative in Bangladesh was brought under the umbrella of the Social Marketing Project (SMP). The SMP consisted of active participation from the Bangladesh Government, the PSI, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population Activities). SMP involved the use of modern marketing techniques to sell condoms under the brand name RAJA and the oral contraceptive pill MAYA. Within a span of six years, it was found that while the sales of Raja went up to 50.4 million pieces, the sales of Maya had declined from 1.1 million cycles in 1980 to 0.62 million in 1983. This was surprising as both products had similar marketing strategies in place, and it was expected to affect their sales’ patterns similarly.
The major objective of the SMP was to control the population growth in Bangladesh, by selling family-planning contraceptives, at very subsidized rates. They had to come-up with innovative marketing techniques to enhance the sale and use of Maya, get it approved by the project council, and then have these implemented for the overall benefit of the Bangladeshi society. There is also the perplexing problem of the Maya sales not taking-off. The council had to come-up with ways of marketing Maya, and making sure that its sales would be improved.
The use of Maya, being the oral contraceptive pill, required the support and advice of a medical practitioner. Raja, being the condom, was an over-the-counter product and was easily available to the Bangladeshi male through retail stores and pan shops. As per our assessments, it was here that Maya was losing its market share. Especially during the first cycles when side-effects and discontinuation was most common, the...
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