New customers: dreaming little dreams


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We might think brands have a limited role at the ‘base of the pyramid’. But try telling that to the people who live there.

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New customers: dreaming little dreams

  1. 1. Finding LeaderOpinionfaster growth: new customersDreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the Pyramid Share this Opinion Leader
  2. 2. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidLogic suggests that brands havea limited role to play at the Baseof the Pyramid. But try tellingthat to the people who live there. Share this Opinion Leader 2
  3. 3. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidIt goes without saying that affordability matters a great college in the city. She is a bright girl with potential, educations who land salaried jobs in the city – and sodeal to consumers who live on less than $8 a day. the local schoolteacher said. Her family had watched they have carefully set aside what money they can toHowever, it would be a terrible mistake to assume that stories on the community TV set about girls with college send Priyanka to is the only thing that matters. With products askedto perform a range of functional and emotional tasks,there is a natural and hugely valued role for brands atthe Base of the Pyramid (BoP). However, those brandsmust be prepared to develop original, innovative andrelevant propositions if they are to deliver againstthe needs of BoP consumers and become part of anexciting growth opportunity.Priyanka’s storyTNS uses fictionalised realities, stories compiled from themany different interviews conducted by our researchers,to help bring to life the issues regularly faced by BoPconsumers in different markets. Here is one such story.Priyanka is 19 years old. She lives in a small villagenear Lucknow in India, part of a family of six thatsurvives on the annual income of $4,000 that herfather generates from the small piece of land he owns.Every day Priyanka travels for over two hours to attend Share this Opinion Leader 3
  4. 4. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidUnlike the more affluent students at the college,Priyanka does not have pocket money – but herparents give her small amounts for transportationand food. For the last month, though, she hasgone hungry most days. Hidden in her collegebag, a secret from her parents, is the reason:a small tube of moisturiser.Neutrogena is one of the more expensive moisturiserbrands on the market – and when Priyanka boughther first tube from a shopkeeper in the city, she wasshocked at the small size of the product she wasgiven having saved up her lunch money to buy it. Shedecided to try it anyway – and has never willingly usedanother moisturiser brand since. She loves the waythat the cream feels on her face – and she is certainthat the soft look it gives her skin helps her to fit inamongst wealthier students. When the shopkeeperran out of Neutrogena one month, Priyanka Although the moisturiser is the only beauty product money – in order to buy a Ponds face wash. By sharingtried another upmarket brand. She went back to that Priyanka buys, it is not the only product that she the two products, the girls are able to use a fullNeutrogena as soon as it was back in stock. uses. One of her friends has also been saving her lunch skin-care regime. Share this Opinion Leader 4
  5. 5. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidWhen she returns home from college, Priyanka spends In particular, she fears being forced to abandon herher evenings helping her mother. Dust from sweeping plans for a career if her parents choose to arrange athe floor clings to her long hair, which her traditional- marriage for her. Until then, though, the secret tube ofminded parents will never allow her to cut. It leaves her Neutrogena helps her to balance the two very differentskin feeling dry and spotty. If she did nothing about her parts of her life.appearance, she knows she will be ridiculed and singledout as a ‘village girl’ when she travels to the city.She fears that such perceptions will stand in the wayof her opportunities.Priyanka’s mother and father both believe that cuttingPriyanka’s hair would damage her prospects for a goodmarriage. When she asked to wash her hair morefrequently, to keep it from getting oily, they worriedthat she was secretly seeing boys. They would worryequally about make-up or beauty products – and that’swhy they can’t know about the tube of Neutrogena.Keeping her family happy is very important to Priyanka.She wants to be accepted in her home village, just asshe wants to be accepted amongst the other studentsat college. She is worried, though, that these twoworlds will one day pull her in different directions. Share this Opinion Leader 5
  6. 6. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidWhere brand loyalty means more Brands are valued, even loved, as they offer reassurance will be asked to perform within the BoP; robust,We find Priyanka’s story echoed across the lives of men and certainty in potentially very uncertain lives. Once functional, affordable, addressing priority needs andand women in India, China, Latin America and Africa: won over, BoP consumers reward their brands with yet also providing reassurance and even guidance.the regions where the vast majority of BoP unshakeable loyalty, giving early movers in this market Achieving this often means re-engineering a brandconsumers live. a strong competitive advantage. However, to earn through production innovation, packaging and that loyalty, brands must first craft a proposition that delivery mechanisms. People living on less than $8 per day resonates with the multi-dimensional role that they demonstrate a strong and surprising preference to buy a brand over a commodity, provided the brand proposition is relevant, accessible and affordable.This is particularly true of an upper BoP segment, thosewith purchasing power of between $2 and $8 a day,which TNS identifies as ‘Strivers’.These BoP consumers are educated, hopeful andoptimistic about their future, aspirational, ambitiousand confident in their ability to achieve their ambitions.Like Priyanka they value their social equity and seekways to build it further. But like Priyanka they oftenfind themselves caught in conflict between traditionalworlds and new opportunities. Share this Opinion Leader 6
  7. 7. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidFunctional, emotive expertise Successful brand relationships often begin withAny brand proposition for the BoP must be anchored in information and education, reasons to believe andstrong functionality that makes a measurable difference reassurance that money is being spent wisely. However,to the consumer’s life. The brand’s products must propositions are most effective when they build onwithstand stress and hostile physical environments, this functional relevance and credibility to connectand last much longer than would be expected in other emotionally as well.scenarios. And they must address genuine, high-priorityneeds in order to compete successfully for a share ofvery limited incomes. Unilever Unilever’s Lifebuoy brand commands a premium Nokia in rural India by delivering germ protection that has saved and changed lives. Its credibility is built Brands must combine affordability with robust on more than a protection product. Lifebuoy has quality. Nokia’s brand reputation as a lifeline for successfully established itself as a protection brand rural Indians and Africans rests partly on its products’ that champions the cause of health and hygiene, reputation for being kicked, thrown, dropped, ground educating over 70 million Indians on the importance into the dirt – and still working. Perceptions of quality of germ protection and featuring as one of the and expertise are as important in the BoP as in more country’s most trusted brands year after year. developed market sectors, building trust, visibility and Like Priyanka’s tube of Neutrogena, Lifebuoy reassurance that consumers are getting the best that delivers emotional support through the trust it their money can buy. engenders as well as the crucial role it performs. Share this Opinion Leader 7
  8. 8. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidEmotional resonance one of the world’s poorest countries, get the micro-Across markets, we find a range of emotional themes nutrients they need. Danone’s scientists worked toresonating with BoP consumers in this way – and create a product that strips away all unessential costsproviding reassurance, support and even guidance: without compromising on nutritional quality and the company partnered with the Grameen Foundation toEmpowerment establish an innovative community distribution model.The sense of a brand enabling and empowering, either Shakti Dohi is marketed door-to-door by Grameenoneself or one’s family, is particularly powerful. Brands ladies, who also help to educate and raise awareness.that have successfully leveraged this emotional valueinclude Nirma, now valued at $500m, which started Pleasurelife with a promise of ‘affordable whiteness’ for low- Despite, or perhaps because of their many pressing lifeincome consumers, distancing them from the brown concerns, BoP consumers welcome brands promisingcolours that symbolise dirt and poverty. Priyanka’s tube special moments of cheer. SAB Miller’s Chibuku beer isof Neutrogena also stands firmly in this category. one such proposition: engineered for those who cannot afford bottled beer (the majority of the population inFortification Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe where it isFood brands that promise immunity against sickness sold), Chibuku is brewed from sorghum and corn andor an improvement in reproductive health resonate sold in paper cartons and plastic containers. The brandstrongly across the BoP, as do nutrition solutions that proposition: Shake Shake, builds an identity around thecan help to make children stronger and better prepared need to shake the cartons before drinking, to mix thefor the future. Danone’s fortified yoghurt product, separated ingredients.Shakti Dohi helps to ensure that children in Bangladesh, Share this Opinion Leader 8
  9. 9. Dreaming little dreams: brand building at the Base of the PyramidAssertivenessThemes of excellence and success can also resonateamongst BoP consumers, provided they focus onrelevant needs. Brands have found success withpromises of mastery over budget, admiration and envyof superior homemaking skills, enhancement of socialstature and parental pride and ambition. Priyagold, abiscuit brand in India, challenged the market normsand the market leader by introducing a range ofindulgence biscuits. Until then, the only biscuits thatwere accessible to lower income consumers werethe cheaper energy range. Priyagold’s ‘demand withentitlement’ proposition instead asked: Why should thegood things in life be denied to you? Share this Opinion Leader 9
  10. 10. Inclusion not exclusivity: Although international brands have aspirational appeal with consumers. With $5 trillion of spending powersome potential traps for global brands amongst the emerging middle class, that appeal has far currently residing within the BoP, the rewards forIn developing emotive propositions, brands must take less resonance for BoP consumers. Functionality, quality investing in these relationships are substantial.great care not to apply developed market themes that and the ability to satisfy emotional needs must behave potentially negative connotations amongst established on the ground, within the audience’s ownBoP consumers. experience; they cannot be imported from elsewhere. Local brands are often the ones to thrive within the BoP – and global brands looking for new growth Rebelliousness and opportunities can gain valuable insights by studying their success. exclusivity have no place here; meaning Brand-building the old-fashioned way The key to crafting a winning BoP proposition for and purpose are global brands lies in a willingness to re-engineer product and brand infrastructure to craft an affordable, everything. quality proposition. However, it also requires a will to go further: to develop emotional engagement and to fulfil the role of reassuring, trusted advisor thatIf a brand issues a challenge then that challenge must BoP consumers actively seek from their brands. Forrelate to real needs or changing unfair practices, not marketers, the BoP provides an opportunity for good,self-indulgent, edgy rebelliousness. Superiority must be old-fashioned ‘brand building’ – and an environmentdirected towards a goal, never towards ego satisfaction. ideally suited to building meaningful relationships Share this Opinion Leader 10
  11. 11. About Opinion LeadersOpinion Leaders is part of a regular series of articles from TNS consultants, based on their expertise gatheredthrough working on client assignments in over 80 markets globally, with additional insights gained throughTNS proprietary studies such as Digital Life, Mobile Life and the Commitment Economy.About TNS About the author Poonam Kumar is Regional Director in TNS’s BrandTNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and & Communication bringing more than 20 yearsstakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence experience in brand development, brand strategyin over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands planning, ethnography and consumer insight to herindividual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world. role. Poonam has specific expertise on marketingTNS is part of Kantar, one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups. to the Base of the Pyramid, and on motivational research and market segmentation and is a regular presenter on BoP consumers at ESOMAR and otherPlease visit for more information. industry events. Poonam holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from a premier Institute (IIT Chennai)Get in touch and a post graduate degree in Management fromIf you would like to talk to us about anything you have read in this report, please get in touch via a top management school in India (IIM Calcutta) or via Twitter @tns_global Share this Opinion Leader 11