A Look at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Insights on Opportunities amongst BOP segment


13 Sep A Look at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Insights on Opportunities amongst BOP segment

Constrained by limited resources (both tangible and intangible ones), they try to make do with whatever they possess. They adapt their social behavior accordingly, amongst other, through developing higher level of empathy and solidarity. In spite of their limitations, the BOP people still inherit and internalize spiritual and religious values that guide them in sustaining “relative deprivation status”. They also still aspire to have better livelihoods especially for their off-springs, for whom they are willing to sacrifice for. No matter how limited is the resources they control, they still have potentiality to obtain more earnings as well as to save. The barriers, however, their mindset (as responses to their life status) needs to be ‘corrected”.

The poor, in fact, are vulnerable due to lack of education (often they are illiterate), lack of information, and other economic, cultural and social deprivations. A person’s utility preferences are malleable and shaped by his or her background and experience, especially if he or she is disadvantaged (Sen, 2000). It is not appropriate to assume that the poor’s expressed preferences are truly in their self-interest. We need to look beyond their expressed preferences and focus on people’s capabilities to choose the lives they have reason to value (Aneel Karnani, 2009). Amartya Sen (2000: 63), the Nobel Prize winning economist, eloquently states:

“The deprived people tend to come to terms with their deprivation because of the sheer necessity of survival, and they may, as a result, lack the courage to demand any radical change, and may even adjust their desires and expectations to what they unambitiously see as feasible. The mental metric of pleasure or desire is just too malleable to be a firm guide to deprivation and disadvantage. … Social and economic factors such as basic education, elementary health care, and secure employment are important not only in their own right, but also for the role they can play in giving people opportunity to approach the world with courage and freedom.”

Considering their sheer number as well their latent potentiality, it would be beneficial for business to explore ways to participate (in alignment with other institutions and organizations) in helping them out of poverty. One percent incremental upward in economic capability would mean around five to six millions of new consumers. Being attached to their upward movement would guarantee a strong association as well as further engagement with aiding organizations’ products and brands. It is obvious that in trying to upgrade a BOP segment, a business entity should consider target’s local wisdom, social ambiance as well as local opportunities. Training programs are required to address their shortcoming of progressive mental attitudes and certain relevant skills. Saving facilities might be needed. It is to be understood that this type of venture goes beyond traditional Corporate Social Responsibility. The return would not be quick although corporate brand would surely be enhanced.

Some ideas that can be implemented to approach BOP people are:

  • Mother and children are the major target market in the BOP segment. Mother’s role as breadwinner in the family is very dominant, so intervention to the mother is very important. Children is also important to be targeted as mother always try to give pocket money and children spending it to buy snack, candy etc (“jajan”).
  • As warung near their residence is the most important outlet for the BOP segment, the availability of product in warungs near their place become very important. They are less frequent go to Mini Market or Wet Market as transportation is needed and they do not purchase lot of things.
  • Selling the product by using small product sizing (sachet, small pack) and selling product with debt / installment system could works among BOP people
  • Attractive promotion can be made based on their DREAMS, such as prize in the form of :
    • Pilgrim
    • Scholarship
  • There is big opportunity to sell food product among this segment. Despite the low price, food with complete nutrition and supported healthiness can very interesting for this segment as they need product replacement from something they can’t afford to buy (milk, vitamin etc). Some “jajanan” products that might salable amongst BOP are milk, Candy, Milk Biscuit, etc.

Company could be sponsored the activity done by various community, LSM which have mission to upgrade the BOP live, as this is investment for the future for their brand or company (as these BOP segment will remember who help them and at the end it is expected they will become loyal customer of the brand).

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