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Reaching the bottom of the pyramid: micro life insurance in India

Krishnaveni Muthiah (PSG Institute of Management, PSG College of Technology, Peelamedu, India)

Publication date: 1 October 2011

Issue publication date: 1 October 2011


Subject area

International business/International marketing.

Study level/applicability

Courses: the case is directly related to courses on “International Business” and “International Marketing” in the Master of Business Administration programme.

Training programmes: management development programmes for working executives, on the topics “Business across borders”, “Business stabilization in foreign markets”.

Case overview

In 1999, the liberalization of the insurance sector as per the recommendations of the Malhotra committee gave way for privatization and foreign firms entered this sector through joint ventures. The business growth, which was enjoyed by these firms from 1999 to 2008, was tremendous. The growth percentage started declining following the global economic downturn in the capital markets. This situation compelled the insurance firms to re-look into their business strategy. On one hand whatever growth they had, 80 percent of it was through unit linked insurance plans depending on the capital market. On the other, it was identified that in a country like India the untapped market potential was among the rural millions. Reaching those people who are at the bottom of the pyramid necessitated a completely new business model to be developed as the need of the hour. The take stock of the position at this vnjuncture is the crux of the present case study, which envisages finding out alternative delivery models to suit the Indian rural market taking into account the intrinsic nature of life insurance and the basic living styles and mentality of the rural folk.

Expected learning outcomes

After discussion and analysis of this case, students will be able to:

  • understand how market culture in a target country differs from that in the home country;

  • appreciate how challenges in a developing country market have their own unique features to be understood;

  • identify various courses of action and evaluate them on the basis of the host country factors;

  • understand the “international planning process”; and

  • appreciate how important it is for a country manager of a multinational firm to plan and execute the marketing mix suited to the inherent qualities of the target market.

Supplementary materials

Teaching notes.



Muthiah, K. (2011), "Reaching the bottom of the pyramid: micro life insurance in India", , Vol. 1 No. 4.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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