GAIN Working Paper Series 23 - Understanding consumers perspectives on nutritious foods products

Safe, nutritious food is essential to optimal nutrition and wellbeing, and in low- and middle-income countries, much of it is produced or handled by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). GAIN has long supported SMEs to increase their production of safe and nutritious foods but has found it difficult to understand the impact of such activities on consumers. As food is a fast-moving consumer good, which travels in large volumes between diverse actors of a value chain, spanning wide areas, it can be hard to identify its end consumers, and collecting data from them can be resource intensive.

GAIN thus worked with 60 Decibels to test their Lean Data approach to collect data from consumers and better understand the social impact of supporting food system SMEs.

This paper describes our process of remote collection of customer contact information (using radio ads and point-of-sale stickers) followed by phone-based surveying to gather both basic consumer demographic information and more nuanced insights on how customers perceived the supported products. Three SMEs in Rwanda and Kenya were identified and served as partners in the research.

Overall, we found that the approach worked well, particularly when both radio ads and stickers were used and with a participation incentive in place. About 617 customers responded to the survey. They provided insights that firms found useful, highlighting both the products’ strengths and potential areas for improvement. All firms plan to act to apply the results to address customer challenges or to expand their business. Similar approaches should prove useful to collect actionable feedback from customers in the future.