ColaLife’s Kit Yamoyo has really captured the world’s imagination. Users in poor villages in Zambia, who helped us in the design process, really like it and so do top designers, philanthropists, judges of ethics, public health and international development specialists. In the 12-month trial retailers bought 25,000 of them. Last month the Kit Yamoyo was featured as a ‘Breakthrough Innovation’ in child health at the UN General Assembly and in the last few months, the Kit Yamoyo has picked up a string of very high-profile awards including:
- Product Design of the Year 2013
- The Ethical Product of the Year 2013
- The Diamond Award at the DuPont Packaging Innovation Awards
- An Innovation By Design Award (Social Good category)
Now, I’d like to think we’d got these awards because of how the components of the Kit Yamoyo product and the packaging work so well together to meet the real needs of caregivers/mothers and children. The way the packaging is integral with the whole kit design, acting as a measure for the water needed to make up the ORS, the mixing device, the storage device and cup. But deep down I suspect that it’s the fact that it fits into Coca-Cola crates that really gets the international community so excited. We totally understand this, that was our own starting point and that’s what got us really excited too. Initially.
At this point, the natural thing to do would be to relax and bask in the glory of all of this fabulous recognition of our work on something so meek as an anti-diarrhoea kit – we are not designing sexy gadgets or cars after all.
However, ColaLife is not like that. We listen, we learn and we act. What our customers, in poor, remote rural communities are telling us is that many of them cannot afford the subsidised price tag as it is (K 5.00 or USD 0.91, GBP 0.60). In our midline survey (Mar-13), 58% of mothers said the kit was “affordable” or “not expensive”, 30% said it was expensive and 8% said it was “too expensive”. So the pressure is really on to seek every means to reduce costs.
Another thing our midline survey told us is that only 8% of retailers have ever put the kits in Coca-Cola crates to carry them to their shops. This feature wasn’t the key enabler we thought it would be (there is more on this here).
Now, if we remove the constraint of fitting in Coca-Cola crates from the packaging design, then we have a big opportunity to reduce costs. So our packaging partner – PI Global – has been busy looking at other, cheaper options. This is a challenging process given that we do not want to lose any of the other innovative features; the packaging must act as the measuring device for the water; the mixing and storage device and the cup. Could the simple jar be the inspiration for an alternative packaging format?
We will not be dropping the original AidPod packaging format as in some circumstances (eg in other countries, in the urban markets here in Zambia and in humanitarian situations) having a kit that fits in Coca-Cola crates might be a key enabler.
Interestingly, a move in this direction – away from the Coca-Cola crate – may help to make us more interesting to certain parts of the public health world who have seen the current Kit Yamoyo as a niche product that can ONLY be distributed in Coca-Cola crates. This is not the case – the current Kit Yamoyo doesn’t have to go into Coca-Cola crates – but having a product format that does NOT fit into Coca-Cola crates may make the Kit Yamoyo more appealing to many in the public health sector.
So Kit Yamoyo becomes what it truly is; a tightly defined concept that can (and should) be adapted to local circumstances. And this is the concept:
Kit Yamoyo is an anti-diarrhoea kit that contains 4g/200ml sachets of Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), Zinc, Soap and an instruction leaflet. The Kit Yamoyo packaging acts as the measuring device for the water needed to make up the ORS, a mixing and storage device and a cup. It is currently available in two formats: The Original which can be transported in Coca-Cola crates and The Screw-top which is cheaper and can be manufactured locally.
And this is how it was presented at the UN General Assembly last month (September 2013):
For our supporters who find this move disappointing, I ask you please to keep focussed on the greater good. Our primary purpose is not to win awards (although we are honoured and very grateful to receive them and this helps raise the profile of our cause enormously). We’re here to save as many children’s lives as possible and this will well help us do that.
Onwards and upwards.
A note on the data in this post
Cited data are interim results from the ColaLife Operational Trial in Zambia (COTZ) and do not reflect the final report which will be published as Ramchandani et al. Final calculations may vary.