Poor sanitation facilities is one of the reasons why most of our cities look ugly. Most of the population does not have the luxury of proper toilet facilities at their work place (and few do not have one even at their residence). Such people are expected to make use of public toilets (wherever there’s one) but many of them use public places are toilets even when they have access to a public toilet, the reason being, they are expected to pay a rupee or two, to use public toilets.
In one line, the idea is to place advertisements inside public sanitation facilities and recover operating expense, thereby avoid asking users for money.
If you find that crazy and not viable, please read further.
Why people hesitate to pay for public toilets?
Two reasons: First, many people think it is waste of money when they can do it free of cost roadside. (That’s total shortage of civic sense. These same people do not mind spending one fourth of their daily income on Beedies, Cigarrates, Ghutkas and another two fourth on alchohol, but do not want to spend couple of rupees every day on sanitation.) That is a kind of attitude problem- Since I don’t have a mechanism to change their mindset and make them pay; I focus on a business model that doesn’t require them to pay.
Second: We (Municipal Corporation/police/public) neither punish those who do ugly things at road side, nor appreciate someone who spends his hard earned money to use public toilet. This gradually leads to an attitude: Why should I waste my money?
How much it costs to run a public sanitation facility?
Excluding one time expenditure on infrastructure, maintenance expenses would involve mainly water, electricity and salary for cleaner and supervisor. All these together shouldn’t be costing more than Rs. 10000 per public toilet per month. If you wish to recover this, you expect over 333 people to use it every day by paying Re 1 each, which doesn’t always happen. Instead, if we can rope in 10 advertisers who can pay Rs. 1000 per month we can recover this expense. (INR 1000 per month is quite cheap for any business having a turnover of few lakhs per month. A 2 column, 10 cm ad in local newspaper costs almost same)
By placing suitable advertisements, one can recover much more money than the expenditure and eventually can create a win-win-win situation for everyone involved.
What is the advantage?
Please keep the stigma aside and read further:
1 When you’re driving or traveling in a vehicle, you spare only few seconds at the hoardings or other advertisements on the road side. But ads displayed inside a loo would get couple of minutes of undivided attention of the user. Thus it ensures a deeper penetration into his brain.
2 While using a loo a person will usually be free from any tensions and won’t have hundreds of thoughts running in his mind. If something is displayed in front of him, in all probability he will read it in detail. This simply means higher success rate for the ad.
3 When it is made free, more and more people will come and use it. More readership for the ads.
4 Our cities will look cleaner and hygienic as considerable number of people will head towards free public urinals.
What kind of ads can be displayed in public toilets?
I classify public toilets into two categories for this purpose:
One: Those which are near to bus terminals/railway stations etc which are used primarily by inter city commuters. Here consumers will be interested in services like lodging, hotels, restaurants, travel services and tourist information etc.
Two: Other places: Here users will be construction workers, street side vendors, localities and other people who work/stay around the utility and would use it on a regular basis. Advertisements related to personal loans, discount sales being run at nearby stores, products that might be of interest to work force etc suite best here.
Cost of advertising in a loo will be much cheaper and more effective than other public advertsing options and I’m sure advertisers will be willing to give it a try.
In both places, leftover places can be used to display public awareness messages on HIV/AIDS etc.
Infosys Foundation, several municipalities and NGOs have set up several pay and use “Sulabh Shauchalaya”s across the country. If only they can make it free for usage with little more effort, it will change India’s image to a reasonable extent.
Scope for improvement: (light hearted)
If the model works, we can even think of having touch screen monitors with Credit card swiping machines attached in urinals…We can display google adsense ads on these monitors and user can make on the spot online purchase swiping his credit card…
Give incentive to people for using public toilets (Can be done when profits start pouring in)
Might sound crazy at this point but give it a thought. Please comment your views if it is feasible or not.
Check this: Museum of Toilets! (Sulabh Shouchalay International Toilet Museum-Delhi India)Link courtesy-Deepa Krishnan.