Population Services International Case Study

Case | HBS Case Collection | September 1985 (Revised July 2007)

Population Services International: The Social Marketing Project in Bangladesh

by V. Kasturi Rangan


Population Services International (PSI) was a not-for-profit agency founded to disseminate family planning information and to market birth control products, primarily in less developed countries seeking to curb their population explosions. In 1976, PSI concluded an agreement with the government of Bangladesh to conduct a social marketing program, with the objective of using modern marketing techniques to sell subsidized contraceptives through commercial outlets. Seven years later, three PSI managers were meeting at PSI's Washington, D.C. headquarters to discuss 1984-86 marketing strategy for two products: Raja condoms and Maya birth control pills. Of particular concern was the fact that the marketing approach that had proven extremely successful for Raja was yielding poor sales results for Maya. The PSI managers needed to devise an action plan for improving Maya Sales.

Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Health; Marketing Strategy; Social Marketing; Business and Government Relations; Nonprofit Organizations; Bangladesh;

What is the Total Market Approach (TMA)?

Thoughts about social marketing have matured a great deal over the last 50 years. Social marketers and their stakeholders are examining the sustainability of programs and asking whether programs are as effective and efficient as they can be. This has resulted in the development of a total market approach (TMA), also known as the “whole market approach,” which some argue is central to the future of social marketing.

TMA is a system in which all sectors – public, socially marketed, and commercial – work together to deliver health choices for all population segments. The goal is to ensure that those in need are reached with the appropriate products: those in the poorest communities receive free products, those with slightly greater resources benefit from partially subsidized products, and those with a greater ability to pay should purchase their products from the commercial sector. Greater efficiency in the market increases sustainability by better targeting public and social sector subsidies and decreasing “crowding out” of the commercial sector.


We welcome you to read and comment on the UNFPA-PSI TMAcase studies. Download them below:

Background: Between November 2012 and November 2013, PSI completed six TMA case studies with support from two independent researchers. The countries selected were Botswana, Lesotho, Mali, South Africa, Swaziland, and Uganda – all of which have large condom social marketing programs, are affected by HIV, and have high maternal morbidity and mortality relative to their economic development. UNFPA sponsored the research.

Objective: To inform the development of appropriate, evidence-based decisions aimed at increasing condom use equitably and sustainably through actions undertaken in the public, socially marketed, and commercial sectors.

Methods: Content for the case studies was based on a review of the literature, seven key TMA metrics calculated from national-level data, and interviews with stakeholders. All case studies were subject to review by stakeholders, including Ministries of Health and non-governmental organizations in all six countries, UNFPA’s local and regional offices, UNFPA headquarters in New York City, PSI country and regional offices, and PSI’s headquarters in Washington DC.

Summary: The case studies describe the market for male condoms in each of the six African countries, and the roles of the public, social marketing, and commercial sectors in those markets. They illustrate the universe of need for condoms, levels of use, socioeconomic equity among users, and the market presence of condoms for reproductive health and HIV prevention (dual protection). They also propose a set of recommendations for improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of condom markets.

Health Areas:
HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections
Developing Markets
Botswana, Lesotho, Mali, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda

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