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Consumers and technology in a changing world: the perspective from subsistence marketplaces

Madhubalan Viswanathan (University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, USA)
Arun Sreekumar (University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, USA)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 27 March 2019

Issue publication date: 19 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to provide a perspective on consumers and technology in a changing world using insights gained from subsistence marketplaces. Consumers in a changing world are on different parts of the economic spectrum and are also reflected in contexts of poverty that is termed subsistence marketplaces. “Data” comes from pioneering the subsistence marketplaces stream of research, education and social enterprise.


The authors study the intersection of poverty and marketplaces, beginning at the micro-level, and take a bottom-up approach to deriving implications.


The authors cover both aspects – what micro-level insights about thinking, feeling and coping mean for technology perceptions and usage in general and what specific insights are derived for designing and implementing solutions that have bearing on the use of technology. In the course of all endeavors in research, education and social enterprise, technology, particularly information and communications technology, has been central.

Research limitations/implications

The authors discuss implications for research at the confluence of a variety of uncertainties inherent in the context of subsistence marketplaces, in environmental issues and climate change and in the nature and speed of technological change and progress.

Practical implications

In this paper, the authors discuss what subsistence marketplaces mean for consumers and technology in a changing world, lessons learned for the design and development of technological solutions, technological innovation from subsistence marketplaces and a broader discussion of the importance of bottom-up approaches to the intersection of subsistence marketplaces and technological solutions.


The authors use insights developed from pioneering the arena of subsistence marketplaces and creating synergies between research, education and social enterprise.



Viswanathan, M. and Sreekumar, A. (2019), "Consumers and technology in a changing world: the perspective from subsistence marketplaces", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 53 No. 6, pp. 1254-1274.



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