d.light design is a for-profit social enterprise whose purpose is to create new freedoms for customers without access to reliable power so they can enjoy a brighter future. The company designs, manufactures, and distributes solar light and power products throughout the developing world.
When members of the d.light team moved to India to set up distribution for d.light’s first product, they quickly discovered this task would not be as easy as they had hoped. One challenge was related to consumers. Although many individuals in the target market desired to have light, d.light learned that it would be difficult to convince them to invest in a d.light product since the market was littered with low-quality, solar-based lighting products. Another challenge involved the distributors. The large, reputable distributors in India sought to work with established companies that could offer multiple products, in combination with a strong brand and well-developed marketing materials that they could leverage to promote the product. Accordingly, they were less than enthusiastic when d.light representatives approached them about carrying their first offering. This mini-case study evaluates the strategy d.light adopted to differentiate the company and establish its products as credible and trustworthy to earn the acceptance of consumers and distributors.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Ned Tozun and Sam Goldman of d.light for their participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.