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Successful marketing by multinational firms to the bottom of the pyramid: connecting share of heart, global “umbrella brands”, and responsible marketing

Van R. Wood (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)
Dennis A. Pitta (University of Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Frank J. Franzak (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 31 October 2008




This paper aims to contend that four significant ideas must be comprehended, and their connection and interaction understood if successful marketing to the 4 to 5 billion undeserved bottom of the pyramid (BOP) people in the world, by multinational firms is to be realized. These ideas are: the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) market itself; share of the heart versus consumer animosity; the nature and influence of global “umbrella” brands and responsible marketing as a guiding principle for all firms including those focusing on the BOP. Each of these ideas, in and of itself, represents an important dimension in today's global business environment, but taken together they offer a clearer understanding of how companies, particularly multinational companies, can do well (profit) and do good (improve humanity).


The paper briefly overviews the BOP literature, highlighting those parts most relevant to this work; expands upon the notion of “share of heart” and its twin components consumer affinity and consumer animosity; delineates the nature and impact of global “umbrella” brands in BOP marketing; synopsizes the notion of “responsible marketing” in the BOP context, and proposes a conceptual scheme of how these ideas are connected, how they interact in today's business world, and how they can lead to ongoing business success.


Mutlinational firms (MNFs) wishing to successfully pursue BOP markets need to blend their understanding of BOP uniqueness, with a clear understanding of the other three concepts, namely share of heart, gobal umbrella brands and responsible marketing. Tapping the potential of the BOP requires not only radicallly lowered priced products but also consumers with higher income. Marketers must address both parts of the problem since acting on either in isolation will not be effective.


Global umbrella brands of the rich world (BrandAmerica, EuroBrand, BrandNippon, etc.) must also play a part in successful BOP marketing. The future of such global umbrella brands lies to a great degree with BOP markets as these markets are still growing, and thus represent and will continue to represent either enormous partners or enormous rivals. MNFs that truly understand the nature, scope and potential of BOP markets, and act in concert to market responsibly to consumers in such markets, will not only garner the needed share of heart related to long‐term success in such markets, but will see their own global umbrella brand continue to thrive and prosper in the ever evolving global market arena.



Wood, V.R., Pitta, D.A. and Franzak, F.J. (2008), "Successful marketing by multinational firms to the bottom of the pyramid: connecting share of heart, global “umbrella brands”, and responsible marketing", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 7, pp. 419-429.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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