Direct to farmer for ‘on-field’ brand protection

A leading agrochemical brand deploys a direct-to-farmer anti-counterfeit solution to drive faster response times, gather real-time data ‘on-the-field’ and leverage the channel for driving loyalty and engagement.

This bespoke solution was built on Ennoventure’s unique, patented and award-winning anti-counterfeit technology solution.

The backdrop

The farmer is the key

In the case of agrochemicals and agro products, the farmer is the pivotal and critical decision maker. From brand reputation and word of mouth to product sales, it is critical for brands to engage the farmer to drive business outcomes. At the same time, it is also important for brands to get the data back from the field, to drive their research and development. In a seasonal and competitive business with a huge customer base spread across cultural and geographical landscape – the agricultural products industry builds their solutions around the farmer.

The brands are often alerted to the presence of counterfeit or fake products when they have already spread across the market, and have started causing consumer complaints. Even when the brands are working closely with governmental and regulatory authorities, they are unable to provide information about the presence and location of fake products quickly enough to act.

Key challenge

The brand wanted to engage directly with farmers while using the engagement to drive loyalty and reputation. The challenge was to find a way to engage the farmers that did not require them to learn or buy any new technology, and which fit into their regular daily life without any disruption. The farmers’ profiles cut across geographies, products and cultures, and the solution had to be elegant enough to deploy across all these categories.

The supply chains in rural areas with farming communities were more likely to be affected by the addition of counterfeit products. As the products had to cross multiple state boundaries and across different regulatory jurisdictions, there was a high likelihood of weak spots where counterfeiters could surreptitiously add their fake products into the mix.

With chemical products, it was not easy to quickly and conclusively ascertain product efficacy by the farmer, simply by using the product. Often, the damaging effects of a fake agrochemical product could be seen after it has been deployed, by which time it is too late to save the crops.

The farmers’ profiles also cut across levels of affluence and literacy. The brand needed to speak directly to the farmers to spread awareness about the damaging effects of poor quality products, and the great harm to the farmers and their crops, and eventually the end-consumers. It was important for the brand to directly engage farmers, as they could be susceptible to marketing by low quality products packaged to look like the brand. In general, agrochemical products have to spend a large sum of money for training and awareness creation among farmers. This requires a large budget outlay of manpower and
training material, along with constant maintenance and follow-up. This was often prohibitive and resulted in failed, expensive programs.

It was also important for brands to get credible information with sufficient sample size, in order for them to move into action mode. The farming community is spread over a very large area, with varying levels of regulatory support and accessibility – the brand needed real-time data of fake products, mapped to actual locations to prioritize their action based on the insight.

Solution design A simple, scalable and secure brand authentication channel

Ennoventure zeroed in on WhatsApp as an existing channel that has a wide following among farmers which cuts across the profile spectrum. This was validated with some sample outreach programs and studies. WhatsApp also worked on lower end smartphones and did not require a broadband connection – it worked well over the telecom internet connection. Additionally, WhatsApp brought with it a high level of communication encryption, reducing the odds of compromised data during transfer. The use of QR codes was also seen to be prevalent, particularly due to the financial payments being done through the UPI network in India.

  • The farmer could scan a QR code on the product packaging which pulled up the WhatsApp handle of the agrochemical brand. The farmer did not need a high level or sophistication or technical literacy to enable this. The solution is also language agnostic. The QR code ensured that the WhatsApp handle of the brand was opened.
  • The farmer could simply take a photo of the product/packaging and share it to the brand’s WhatsApp handle, in order to check the authenticity of the product. The response was also instantly delivered back to the farmer on WhatsApp itself.
  • The brand was now connected directly with the farmer, and could continue to engage or reward the farmer for their behavior and interactions. This helped the brand create an opportunity to build a virtual, verified and active database of farmers with a list of their phone numbers as well.
  • The WhatsApp channel is also an evergreen/live/asynchronous channel which allows the farmer to message with their requirements, feedback or challenges. The brand authenticity & engagement drive gave the brand a credible reason and useful engagement to build the connect with the farmers.

Development – Low cost, high impact solution integrating WhatsApp with Ennoventure’s cloud

Massive scale – Ennoventure’s technology piggybacked on the massive footprint by WhatsApp across the farming community. This was enabled by a scalable cloud solution integrated with WhatsApp’s API. This smartly eliminated multiple cost factors for the brand including development and maintenance of customized software.

Easy deployment – It was possible to deploy Ennoventure’s solution quickly over a fast-moving and highly-scaled production program, because it did not require any process change. There was no change to the factory production process and it did not disrupt any supply chain or logistics systems.

Low-cost solution – Using WhatsApp as a channel enabled the brand to save all the investments they would have to do to build their own proprietary networks, and to train farmers on using their apps. At the same time the brand could accrue all the benefits of the channel – secure, scalable and always online.

Reporting and analytics – Real-time, secure and cloud based

Ennoventure’s cloud solution captured the images sent by the farmers through their WhatsApp accounts. It was scaled to maintain a profile for each farmer with a history of the images that they had sent. This allowed a one-on-one record for each farmer across a large database. Any data allowed by WhatsApp’s API regarding location, phone number and other
details were also populated into the virtual database created through this exercise.

A digital dashboard overlay allowed for visualization of the data and faster insights.

Outcome – winning the relationship and protecting the farmers

The agrochemical brand was able to take their brand authentication program quickly to the market without any change to their logistics or production process.

The brand was able to get real-time and credible data on the presence of fake products mapped to the specific locations where those were found.

The program helped them construct a database of activated farmers who had demonstrated their interest in brand authentication by participating in the program. The brand was able to provide a powerful statement to farmers by going the extra mile to ensure that they did not get harmed by fake products.

The company was able to present itself as a technology-enabled and empathetic brand to the farmers.

Frugal innovation at scale

Ennoventure was able to do a secure and scalable integration of the cloud solution to accept
and return data through WhatsApp’s API.

Ennoventure’s award-winning technology solution

Use Ennoventure’s technology to drive large-scale, high-velocity, data-driven anti-counterfeit
and consumer awareness programs without any process change in the production or

1. High-velocity and scaled anti-counterfeit solutions
2. Invisible verification signature code – no change to the artwork
3. No process change in the factory. Deploy the solution very fast.
4. Real-time tracking dashboard – act on real-time data
5. Mobile app and webpage-based verification scans – empower stakeholders and consumers