Bottom of the Pyramid Marketing: Making, Shaping and Developing BoP Markets

Cover of Bottom of the Pyramid Marketing: Making, Shaping and Developing BoP Markets
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Synopsis

Table of contents

(13 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiv
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Part I: Markets and Marketing at BOP: Where We are and What We Know

Abstract

The authors look back and forward in terms of challenges and opportunities for marketing, viewed from the vantage point of the subsistence marketplaces stream. The authors discuss how marketing can evolve and expand to address the scale and scope of challenges that lie ahead. By way of challenges, the authors discuss the confluence of uncertainties, such as inherent in the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) contexts, in environmental issues, and in the arena of technological solutions, as well as the confluence of unfamiliarities among managers, students, and researchers. The authors discuss opportunities for marketing through a bottom-up approach and argue for evolving marketing with rapidly changing reality in BoP markets, a harbinger and an innovation laboratory for all contexts.

Abstract

This chapter draws on the concept of orders of worth to generate understanding into how sustainable, good markets might be enabled at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP). Through an ethnographic study of the efforts of a non-government organisation (NGO) to create spaces where values and value at the BoP are unearthed, articulated, contested and translated into market-making practices. Insights are generated into how interventions to make-markets in sites of extreme poverty become ‘worth the effort’. In keeping with the market studies literature, the authors explore how multiple, contested and reframed needs generate insights into the efforts (and practices) that shape orders of worth in economic life. Orders of worth are the everyday practice of social values that constitute economic value and are framed through the moral values of social worlds as these values are put to work to calculate economic value. This work provides a contribution to the market studies literature through our understanding of the relationship between social and economic values in the creation of orders of worth, by showing how this happens at the BoP. Second, the authors contribute to the BoP literature by showing how places and spaces can be created and used to enable markets to unfold and happen. Finally, the findings contribute to our understanding of the types of practices and market-making devices that interventions might adopt and adapt in order to prod potential actors into action. The chapter identifies three types of enabling practices that make markets possible: connecting, integrating and reclassifying.

Abstract

The present study is aimed at understanding the survival strategies of Subsistence-type Rural Independent retailers, henceforth called SRIs, in the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) markets of developing economies through a qualitative study. SRIs constitute a pivotal channel of distribution of goods to BoP consumers living in the rural areas of developing economies. A process of long interviews was chosen for data gathering to allow SRIs to go into details to allow them to expound upon their beliefs, life-situations, and societal norms. Narratives were collected verbatim from SRIs. The concept of socio-economic embeddedness is used as the central concept to interpret and connect the elements, discerned from the narratives, into a conceptual framework. The aforesaid theory combines the neo-classical economic concept of utility maximization with behavioral economics and economic sociology. The analysis of the narratives is interpretive against the identified elements of the concept of economic embeddedness. The survival strategies of SRIs seem to stem from sociological, psychological, and utility-maximizing behaviors. The elements of SRIs’ responses to its environment provide valuable insights into their purchase motivations.

Abstract

This chapter argues for looking into alternative domains, beyond the narrow confines of the base of the pyramid narrative, to develop a comprehensive and meaningful understanding of marginalised consumers and markets. In gaining deep and nuanced understanding of these markets and consumption behaviour, scholar may draw theoretical resources from varied disciplines such as economics, political theory, literary theory, sociology and anthropology. This chapter reviews three such scholarly perspectives on consumption and markets under poverty.

Part II: Future of Research on BOP markets

Abstract

This chapter adopts the midrange theories schema to expand Pels and Sheth (2017) matrix on business models to serve the low-income consumers (LIC): market adaptation, mission focus, radical innovation, and inclusive ecosystems. To this end, it identifies the underlying general business theories (systems theory and neo-classical economics) and ontological theories (positivism and interpretivist) nested in each of the matrix’s four cells.

Understanding the general theories from which concepts and guidelines are drawn allows a two-way contribution. On one hand, it comprehends which other concepts can be integrated into the LIC literature. Alternatively, it highlights what insights generated from the study of the LIC markets bring to these theories.

Abstract

Pro-poor innovations are innovations targeted at economically poor consumers. These innovations have the potential to improve consumer wellbeing. However, while take up of some such innovations has been rapid (e.g., mobile phones) take up of others has been slower (e.g., fuel efficient stoves). What explains why some pro-poor innovations fail and some succeed? While the literature on consumer innovation adoption in economically wealthy countries is vast, there is very little literature in the context of the “bottom-of-the-pyramid” (BoP) and subsistence marketplaces. This chapter aims to begin answering this question through a review of the extant literature in the area of consumer innovation adoption, which is integrated with literature in the area of consumption within subsistence marketplaces and the BoP. A conceptual model is proposed which outlines key parameters for marketers and managers. The chapter closes by outlining implications and a future research agenda.

Abstract

This chapter examines a periodic market at the bottom of the pyramid. This study has made an attempt to improve the understanding of rural periodic markets and associated issues of infrastructure, information, etc. A qualitative case research method was adopted to collect rich and contextual information about a rural periodic market in a capital city of north India. Themes related to the market background, market characteristics, market functions, etc., were identified and discussed. This study also brings out some of the issues and challenges associated with rural periodic markets. This chapter takes the bottom-up approach to understand challenges of periodic markets. Findings of this research are expected to be helpful in framing the policy for informal markets embedded in social systems. Implications for businesses which are interested in having access to rural periodic markets are also brought out.

Part III: Lessons for Marketers

Abstract

The predominance of certain adverse factors has historically de-motivated firms seeking to enter into the bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) markets due to the perception that BoP markets are impoverished and therefore unable to afford their products. However, Prahalad’s seminal study on BoP markets as potential sources of wealth may have influenced the mindset of marketers around the world to view the demographic at the BoP as prodigious product markets waiting to be mined. This chapter, therefore, explores how some multinational corporations (MNCs) may have successfully implemented BoP marketing in Nigeria against the backdrop of diffusion of innovation (DoI) theory. The DoI theory tries to explain how and why new ideas, product, structures, or phenomena (innovations), spread across users and social systems. It posits among other things that there are at least five conditions that define the rate of adoption of an innovation, including relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability. The authors find in the context of case companies, MTN Communications, Promasidor (Cowbell), and Dufil Prima Foods (Indomie) Nigeria that these elements contribute to building a viable explanation for the wide adoption of their products in the Nigerian BoP markets. Regarding the economic viability of BoP markets, the authors find that MNCs may have to embrace a commitment to long-term profitability, focus on economies of scale as a basis for competitiveness, and realize that in BoP markets, defining a marketing model is a continuous process.

Abstract

The market-based approach to catering for the poor mainly focusses on companies making profits while helping the poor enhance their lives. This concept presented the possibility of there being a ‘fortune’ to make at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) market that was an opportunity for both businesses and consumers. The notion of the BoP market has been widely studied using urban and rural contexts as distinct classifications; yet many argue that the opportunity does not in fact exist in the rural BoP markets. In this chapter the authors examine the prospects in the rural BoP in Sri Lanka through a qualitative study using insights provided by industry practitioners who operate at the BoP level. Findings show that a large percentage of the income of multinational companies is derived from rural BoP markets. Compared to the urban sector, the rural BoP market indicates relatively higher disposable income and is viewed as an attractive market segment by industry practitioners. The findings also show that rural BoP people have more resources and skills than their urban counterparts, although the former commonly have lower levels of education. Moreover, the youth segment in both the urban and rural BoP markets was found to heavily consume social media. The authors conclude their discussion by providing several key proposals for organisations looking to seize opportunities in this market.

Abstract

There is an ongoing debate about the purpose of business and profit maximisation. However, contemporary marketing thinking suggests that pro-social behaviour is a critical aspect of marketing strategy, wherein this type of behaviour leads to marketplace advantage. Amongst the many theories and frameworks (such as, creating shared value and subsistence marketplaces) that re-imagine the purpose of business to include pro-social behaviour, a prominent one is the base of the pyramid (BoP) thesis. This thesis challenges firms to simultaneously alleviate poverty and make a profit by targeting the poorest socioeconomic segment. However, it has encountered robust criticism, with some scholars suggesting a lopsided focus on profits to the detriment of poverty alleviation. Specifically, the criticisms centre on the marketers’ narrow focus on income poverty. In order to overcome these criticisms, as well as to envision a pathway to succeed at the BoP, this chapter makes the case to conceptualise poverty beyond an economic focus of income, assets and wealth to capture beyond economic factors such as equality, justice and freedom. The authors employ Amartya Sen’s capability approach as a starting point to reconceptualise poverty to facilitate marketers to genuinely alleviate poverty whilst making profits at the BoP.

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Abstract

The ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ or BoP represents the population living at the lowest level of the economic or income pyramid across the world (Prahalad, 2002). The BoP approach undoubtedly provides a market-based solution for poverty reduction and facilitates inclusive economic growth. This segment can be classified into two parts, namely, rural BoP and urban BoP. The urban BoP is a more sustainable and viable option for companies to operate in, since it strategically avoids the numerous challenges faced by the rural BoP. Rural BoP is relatively more distant, dispersed, desperately poor, largely illiterate and heterogeneous market (Ireland, 2008). This chapter aims at understanding and characterising the urban BoP market. Further it shares some interesting results of an empirical study conducted to understand the urban BoP consumers of Mumbai city. The study assumes importance as it focusses on the urban BoP as a realistic option to operate in the BoP by removing the dynamic barriers of the rural BoP. Additionally, it provides insight into the urban BoP market and its consumer behaviour.

Index

Pages 213-219
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Cover of Bottom of the Pyramid Marketing: Making, Shaping and Developing BoP Markets
DOI
10.1108/9781787145559
Publication date
2018-12-03
Book series
Marketing in Emerging Markets
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78714-556-6
eISBN
978-1-78714-555-9