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Myths and Reality at the Bottom of the Pyramid

5-6 years since the late CK Prahlad sexed up this demographic, Bottom of the Pyramid has been hotly discussed and grossly misrepresented. Here is DMA Yellow Works' view on the subject.

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Myths and Reality at the Bottom of the Pyramid

  1. 1. We have a European client who has christened the Indian market as a Bottom of the Pyramid market. Meaning a high volume, low value market. So – they are investing very little in the market,, throwing a few products in, with no customization to local tastes, and hoping it sticks. An incredibly wasted opportunity to become relevant in what is one of the largest markets in the world. This abhorrent phrase always conjures up a vast populace of the low means and even lower spending power. It has been at least 5-6 years since the late CK Prahlad sexed up this demographic with a tantalizing fortune attached to it. The premise: If bite sized products or services were offered to the largest but the poorest section of population, the overall volumes could be very high, yielding higher absolute profits. MYTHS AND REALITY AT BRAND EXPONENTS THE BOTTOM OF THE PYRAMID ALPANA PARIDA CEO- DMA YELLOW WORKS
  2. 2. Examples of Rs. 2 sachet packs of shampoos, Rs.5 colas, small size I am aware of no research done by a marketer to identify product toothpastes and soaps – and all similar initiatives of bringing the unit size opportunities here. Inventions such as floating bicycles – that can cross and price down are considered to be initiatives to capture the bottom of streams, navigate floods and local terrain with equal ease and are low the pyramid. cost; nano-tech water filters that miraculously transform sludge into crystal clear safe drinking water; terracotta refrigerators that don’t use This is a completely top down view of things and a belief that electricity and cost Rs. 2500; a non-stick pan made of terracotta again at ‘our’ products and aspirations are the same as that of a very large Rs.50 – are all examples of products with tremendous potential that have population – and that they want to be like us. While there is no question found no brand exponents with a real will go for this fortune at the BOP. about the fortune at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’; there is a missed opportunity by not identifying the products and services that fulfill The micro-finance opportunity has shown the world how empowerment needs and aspirations – rather than simply being the ‘down-market’ and profits can go together. Respecting and understanding consumer or dumbed down versions of the top and middle of the pyramid needs is what successful marketing organizations should do. Sadly, the products. There are no brand or market solutions here – that can result bottom of the pyramid has remained an ‘us’ and ‘them’ distinction. in tangible results in a new and exciting marketplace. We, at DMA Yellow Works – have worked on designing products. While Being economically poor does not mean being knowledge poor and if the ubiquitous shampoo sachet is very much a part of what we do, offered products that can bring value to their lives, they will, like all designing a mobile phone for the blind is the sort of work that really gets consumers see the need. us going.