Bottom of Pyramid – Debate – Semantics

13 February, 2009 at 17:53 1 comment

A hot debate is going on between Karnani and Hammond on the much hyped ‘Bottom of Pyramid’ thing, its refutation and hoopla in various forums.

    My take is that it is all coming to semantics now. Ultimately, Hammond and Prahalad are retracting that their idea is more about ‘Market-based Solutions to Poverty’ rather than ‘Marketing to the Poor’ which are totally different things IMHO. To say that they meant the former and that the editors really screwed the concept to the latter through a titular change is quite appalling and sheepish. Almost as appalling as the ‘Marketing to the Poor’ idea is.
    Am no economist, but I have to agree with Karnani that there is no real money to be made at the BoP without exploitation (bad quality), sociological (fair and lovely) and environmental (plastic sachets) tragedies of some sort in the short, medium and long terms. For example, when one correlates the price to the quantity of say, a cheap shampoo packet, it works out that the poor actually pay more money per-quantum of a product than others. That is just plain wrong. Besides, marketing to the poor is easy because they are illiterate gavaars. Put a fair skinned film-star or latest fad-sportster on the face of the product distributed in as small a package as possible and things will take care of themselves. After all, all humans want the same things and needs are pretty universal.

    But still, as the wisdom of the crowd indicates and based on success stories streaming in, there is potential (even if it is unethical) – by the sheer magnitude of numbers – in market-based solutions. Particularly when it comes to providing something that the poor have never had access to, like water, sanitation and health-care which are problems that even governments have given up. Maybe it has to do with humans being a totally dirty species. Everything we do results in filth. Exercise and you sweat. Think and you procrastinate. Eat and you shit. Drink and you urinate. Smoke and you die. Work and you stink.

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    Entry filed under: BoP, Citizen-Journalism, Deesha, Economy, Energy, Health, India, Life-Theories, MCe2, News-Media, Politics, Poverty, Research, WebXP.

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