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India: SMS promotion boosts helpline traffic

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20 July 2012

India has one of the largest mobile phone databases worldwide. This and the high market penetration (84%) prompted the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) to initiate a pilot project for an SMS-based (Short Message Service) solar thermal awareness campaign. Between January and April 2012, text messages pointing to the toll-free hotline for solar water heaters were sent to half a million prospective buyers of solar hot water systems, such as architects, car owners, doctors and real estate agencies.

Figure: MNRE

The following text was sent in the SMS: “Solar Water Heater HELPLINE. Call free from mobile 18002334477 for queries related to 30% government subsidy. Mon-Fri 9.30 am – 6.30 pm. Help spread the msg.”

Every week for a hundred days (24 February to 6 June), thousands of messages were sent out to people who may think about buying a solar water heater. The awareness campaign for the first pilot phase focused on the cities of Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, New Delhi, Noida, Pune, Rajkot & Thane, and the states of Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. These are cities or states which offer local municipality and/or state incentives for solar water heaters in addition to the 30% capital subsidy provided by the central government.

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