The term the “bottom of the pyramid” has been introduced by C.K. Prahalad in his book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”. The author defines the “bottom of the period” as the 4-5 billion people, who live in poverty and are usually ignored by the private sector, including large multinational companies (Prahald, 2010). Although often disregarded by firms, this market represents a large and untapped potential for further economic development according to Prahald. However, targeting this population will require a completely different approach to sales and distribution, as well as a close cooperation among private companies, governments and not-for-profit organizations. This is particularly true for healthcare that is currently largely unavailable to most of the “bottom of the pyramid” population. In order to realize the potential of this new market, companies should abandon the traditional view on the “bottom of the pyramid” as beneficiaries and to consider them as customers, who have specific needs and characteristics.
There are numerous implications that addressing “bottom of the pyramid” market will have for health delivery. It will be necessary to develop new and innovative ways to offer medical help to those, who are currently unable to acquire it. Firstly, the entities providing health services are likely to change for this market. Limited financial resources and remoteness often make it impossible for people to get assistance in specialized hospitals. Therefore, health delivery will become more decentralized and will be provided by parties other than hospitals, such as local companies. Secondly, the technology and products used to target “the bottom of the pyramid” should change. They have to be both more affordable and useful for people, who live below the poverty line. Furthermore, close cooperation should be sought with the customers in order develop business strategies and products that would cater to the specific needs of the “bottom of the pyramid” market.
The size and potential of the “bottom of the pyramid” market has attracted researchers and businesses in the past years, especially in the light of the economic downturn in the developed world. However, many fail to realize that it is impossible to reveal this potential with the first-world business strategies. It is critical to identify the actual needs of the customers at the “bottom of the pyramid”, to consider their constraints and to develop specific offers that would enhance the quality of life of these people, thus triggering further growth and development in the poorest regions.
Prahald, C. K. (2010). The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid. (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.