In 2011, Coca-Cola India recognised the opportunity to access the rural and remote markets of India in a more effective manner by launching the ‘eKOCool’, a solar power operated cooler. This innovation had the potential to expand the hitherto underserved and hard to penetrate Indian rural market, and even bring home the first time consumers who had never tasted the company’s beverages. It also facilitated an integration of the company’s business development goals with its social responsibility initiatives – in particular, contributing towards the global 5by20 initiative of enabling economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs by 2020.
To make this innovative product affordable, the technical team worked through the supply chain and brought down the costs to US$779, more than a third of the original cost. However, the company’s top management acknowledged that for long-term sustainable impact and the scalability of the innovation, it was imperative that the cost be brought down further. How could this best be done, and how could the golden triangle of business, government and civil society come together to develop similar initiatives that would develop value for communities?
This case illustrates the concepts of innovation, environmental sustainability and women’s empowerment in emerging markets; and highlights the role of innovation in integrating corporate social responsibility with business development goals. The case can be used in both undergraduate and graduate courses in topics related to marketing orientations, rural marketing, corporate social responsibility and marketing innovation.
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