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…
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.
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.
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.
In August 2006, 85 academicians and practitioners from industry and the nonprofit sector came together on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago for a…
In August 2006, 85 academicians and practitioners from industry and the nonprofit sector came together on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago for a conference unlike others in recent management research history. This conference focused on the subsistence marketplace and its constituents – the billions of individuals and families living in substandard housing, with limited or no education; having limited or no access to sanitation, potable water, and health care; and earning minimal incomes. Subsistence consumers and entrepreneurs have been largely ignored by contemporary marketing and management research and practice, but are poised to become a driving force in 21st century economic and business development. It is expected that as many as 1 billion new consumers wielding discretionary income will enter global markets before 2020. In addition, even among those consumers who lack discretionary income, it is expected that they will be much more active in the marketplace in the near future, because of expanded access to products and information through the Internet and wireless technologies (Davis & Stephenson, 2006). Moreover, the combined purchasing power of these consumers, already in the trillions of dollars, is likely to grow at higher rates than that of consumers in industrialized economies. These factors come together to suggest that consumer markets will need to adjust radically to the needs and demands of these emerging markets over the next 2 to 3 decades, even though companies and scholars across the business disciplines know very little about subsistence consumers. It was this need for knowledge about subsistence marketplaces that inspired the conference and the research presented here.
This chapter examines the marketplace activities of subsistence customers in South India. It presents a picture of the day-to-day behaviors and interactions of subsistence…
This chapter examines the marketplace activities of subsistence customers in South India. It presents a picture of the day-to-day behaviors and interactions of subsistence customers in terms of the products they purchase and their interactions with sellers and outlets. The method involved observations and in-depth interviews of a variety of buyers and sellers over several years in urban and rural South India. Needs, products, and market interactions, as well as typical budgets in subsistence contexts are described. These descriptions are used to derive broader characteristics of product and market interactions in terms of uncertainty, complexity, and lack of control; one-on-one interactions; transactional fluidity; and make or buy decisions.
We are grateful for the privilege of editing this book and organizing the conference that it celebrates. We thank our universities, departments, and organizations for their generous support, the many people who helped organize the conference, and the reviewers acknowledged below. Most of all, we thank our presenters, participants, and authors for their interest and energy.
In my forty years of academic research, I have seen the scope of consumer behavior expanded in many directions, both theoretical and practical. One direction has been a dramatic growth beyond behavioral responses to marketing efforts and simple decision making to include the understanding of how consumers process and internalize information and respond to market stimuli at both conscious and subconscious levels.
A significant share of U.S. subsistence consumers is both poor and functionally low-literate. A key question that marketers and public policy makers must ask is how…
A significant share of U.S. subsistence consumers is both poor and functionally low-literate. A key question that marketers and public policy makers must ask is how vulnerable these consumers are to the persuasiveness of marketing communications. We address this question by identifying who subsistence consumers in the United States are likely to be, exploring what it means to be vulnerable, with an emphasis on cognitive vulnerability; examining two theoretical frameworks for analyzing subsistence consumer vulnerability (elaboration likelihood model and persuasion knowledge model); and offering several propositions incorporating the select cognitive constructs of self-esteem, locus of control, and powerlessness.
Billions of people around the world live in subsistence conditions. While this has traditionally been treated as a humanitarian challenge, it also represents a business…
Billions of people around the world live in subsistence conditions. While this has traditionally been treated as a humanitarian challenge, it also represents a business opportunity. Academic research has yet to explore this notion adequately, particularly from the perspective of marketing. In this chapter, we draw on social capital theory to show how rich social ties in otherwise poor populations constitute assets that can be leveraged for the benefit of firms and consumers alike. Building on these ideas, we contend that a decentralized and externalized marketing structure should be more effective in subsistence contexts. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
How do people with few material resources manage their consumption lives? We address this question by investigating the consumption practices and processes of 27…
How do people with few material resources manage their consumption lives? We address this question by investigating the consumption practices and processes of 27 subsistence consumers in South Africa. These individuals are economically active, underserved consumers who either had in the past or have today few resources in terms of income, employment, and education; most of these consumer–informants grew up in and/or live in urban townships populated by poor black South Africans. Our interpretation is based on family systems theory and centers on analyses showing that subsistence consumers enact strategies to cope with the chronic stress of resource allocation needs for the family that outpace resource generation. The repertoire of strategies includes: (1) adhering to resource generation opportunities, (2) accessing new resources, (3) talking to family members, (4) trying and striving, (5) sacrificing, and (6) risking. These strategies are discussed in light of family systems theory, consumer behavior research, and marketing to subsistence consumers.
Adoption of innovations by the people of a nation typically contributes to its economic development. Cultural resistance to new products and technologies sometimes hinders…
Adoption of innovations by the people of a nation typically contributes to its economic development. Cultural resistance to new products and technologies sometimes hinders widespread adoption. The resulting tension may result in a number of outcomes within a society. This paper uses behavioral theory in organizations and the economic development literature to explore ways in which local cultures in subsistence economies negotiate the adoption of innovations. Propensity to adopt innovations and resistance to cultural change are two dimensions that are proposed to impact the strategies that societies use to balance the competing interests of economic development and cultural integrity. Secondary data are used to explore the general relationship between various types of IT investment and economic development across a variety of nations, and a taxonomy is offered as a framework for future research.