New study series on marketing to the base of the pyramid
This is a new series of studies on delivery mechanisms for goods and services to poor customers, the so-called base of the pyramid. They were elaborated in the framework of Urs Heierlis lectures on development cooperation at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, as part of the MIA (Master of International Affairs) courses. Most of the studies have been part of extensive field visits in projects with a similar orientation.
Overview on BOP approaches
When Prahalad published his bestseller "The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid", he revolutionised the thinking about the poor: instead of considering them as beneficiairies of charity, he draw the attention to see them as customers. While he predicted a huge market to be exploited by multi-national companies - there are over four billion potential customers with an income between 1 and 10 dollars per day - he also mentioned that totally redesigned business models would be necessary to operate in those markets.
The reality is such that very few success stories have emerged so far and BOP marketing is a very demanding task: to design products and services that poor people can afford is not easy and to setup supply and delivery mechanisms that can keep the costs low and still allow for profits is almost as big a challenge as squaring a circle.