BoP Consumers - Getting the Right Product to the Right People
Stoves, water purifiers, off-grid power, nutritious foods – so many innovative products and services are being developed for base of the pyramid (BoP) markets. But companies developing these products have to be innovative and creative in the face of several challenges: low purchasing power, traditional consumer preferences and logistical problems (such as inadequate infrastructure) that hamper market growth.
So what are companies doing? How are they innovating?
On 19 June, around 100 Business Fights Poverty members came together at an event hosted by Unilever to explore these issues. The event was co-hosted by Business Fights Poverty and the Business Innovation Facility and featured presentations by two Business Innovation Facility Country Managers:
The session was chaired by Simon Maxwell, Senior Research Associate, Overseas Development Institute.
Nisha looked for a common thread across all the Business Innovation Facility projects and, not surprisingly, innovation through the use of technology emerged as a big theme. The use and adaptation of technology in both product design and service delivery is critical to serving base of the pyramid consumers in an affordable and sustainable manner. She drew on the mKrishi, TCS project which is a mobile phone based product that offers farmer a host of services such as access to input, expert cropping advice and access to market. With every additional farmer in the network, the mKRISHI platform becomes data rich. To acquire more data, mKRISHI continues to create demand for its platform by offering a wide range of services the farmer.
She also looked at Hindustan Unilever who have developed Pureit, a low cost water purifier (Rs. 2,200) that supplies water that is as safe as boiled water, does not require running water or electricity, and has an auto shut off mechanism that blocks the flow of water when it is no longer fit to drink.
Andrew considered some of the BIF projects in Zambia and focused in particular on One Family Health who are making health care services accessible and affordable to BoP consumers by setting up a network of rural clinics, with a focus on populations that otherwise have to tavel many kilometres to hospital.
He also looked at iSchool which aims to provide internet connectivity and online education resources (‘e-learning’ ) to Zambian schools on a commercial basis.
Both presentations can be found in a single BIF ‘Project Resource’.
Further discussion of these topics can also be found in two BIF publications:
· Inside Inclusive Business: Needs or wants? Unravelling demand, affordability and accessibility when selling to the base of the pyramid
· Inside Inclusive Business: Distribution channels to the base of the pyramid: Harnessing existing networks and creating unusual partnerships