Target the Poor

Focuses on developing affordable, innovative solutions tailored to the needs of low-income consumers

Target The Poor Business Model Pattern

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The Target the Poor business model pattern refers to a strategic approach designed to make products, services, and solutions accessible and affordable to low-income segments of the population.

What is the Target the Poor Business Model Pattern?

This model is predicated on the understanding that economic constraints should not preclude access to essential goods and services. By focusing on affordability, simplicity, and essential value offerings, businesses can serve a demographic that is often overlooked, while simultaneously achieving sustainable growth and social impact.

Some Key Statistics

The Target the Poort business model concerns what is often referred to as the bottom of the pyramid. The following statistics refer to the global population that falls in this category.

Global BOP Market Size: The 4 billion people at the base of the economic pyramid, with incomes below $3,000 in local purchasing power, constitute a $5 trillion global consumer market.

Income and Daily Living Costs: Incomes for this group in current U.S. dollars amount to less than $3.35 a day in Brazil, $2.11 in China, $1.89 in Ghana, and $1.56 in India.

  1. Regional Market Sizes:
    • Asia (including the Middle East): Largest BOP market with 2.86 billion people and a market size of $3.47 trillion, representing 83% of the region’s population.
    • Eastern Europe: $458 billion market with 254 million people, making up 64% of the region’s population.
    • Latin America: BOP market size of $509 billion including 360 million people, which is 70% of the region’s population.
    • Africa: Slightly smaller BOP market at $429 billion, but includes 486 million people, representing 95% of the surveyed population in the region.

Source: Wolrd Bank Group- The Next 4 Billion

Importance and Key Benefits for Businesses and/or Customers

This model presents a paradigm shift towards inclusivity, driving innovation and cost-efficiency to cater to the most economically vulnerable. For businesses, this approach opens up new markets and revenue streams, enhances brand equity, and contributes to corporate social responsibility objectives. For customers, it ensures access to essential goods and services, improving their quality of life and enabling economic participation. The mutual benefits foster a more inclusive economy, reducing poverty levels and stimulating local market development.

The Target the Poor Business Model Factors

Implementing the Target the Poor business model pattern necessitates adjustments across the company’s business model:

  • Value Proposition: Tailoring products and services to meet the specific needs of low-income consumers, focusing on affordability and essential functionality.
  • Customer Relationships: Building trust with the target demographic through transparency, reliability, and community engagement.
  • Distribution Channels: Innovating in delivery and distribution methods to reach remote or underserved areas effectively.
  • Cost Structure: Leveraging technology, economies of scale, and local partnerships to minimize costs and maintain low price points.
  • Revenue Streams: Adopting flexible payment structures and small-unit packaging to accommodate the financial constraints of the target market.

Strategic Considerations for Management

Target The Poor Business Model Pattern

The “Target the Poor” business model is a paradigm shift in how businesses approach markets traditionally viewed as non-viable or unprofitable. This model is not merely a corporate social responsibility initiative but a strategic business approach that identifies the poor as a significant market segment. By developing affordable, innovative products and services tailored to the needs of low-income consumers, companies can tap into vast, underserved markets, driving both social impact and business growth. Here are some different recommendations:

Frugal Innovation

Focus on the development of frugal innovations that maintain functionality while being cost-effective for low-income markets. This necessitates a deep understanding of local needs, preferences, and constraints. This requires businesses to adapt their value chains, leveraging local resources and capabilities to minimize costs and maximize accessibility.

Managerial Action: Managers should focus on simplifying product designs and optimizing production processes to reduce costs. Engaging with local suppliers and distribution networks can also contribute to cost efficiencies and enhance market penetration.

Creating Shared Value and Sustainable Impact

Explore how targeting the poor aligns with sustainable business practices, creating a positive social impact while ensuring economic viability. The model encourages businesses to engage in practices that are not only profitable but also contribute to the alleviation of poverty. This positions the strategy based on social entrepreneurship and highlights businesses need to address social issues through innovative solutions that are both impactful and sustainable. The concept of creating shared value (CSV) bridges the gap between societal and economic progress. It suggests that businesses can achieve competitive advantage and profitability by addressing social problems.

Managerial Action: Businesses should integrate social issues into their core strategy, identifying areas where the company’s expertise can address social challenges. This involves innovating in products, services, and business models to serve underserved markets effectively.

Market Development

The potential of the “Target the Poor” model is to create new markets by making products and services accessible to previously overlooked consumer segments. This demonstrates the importance of educating and engaging with the target market to build trust and understanding, ensuring product adoption and sustained use.

Managerial Action: Companies are encouraged to conduct thorough market research to understand the specific needs, preferences, and constraints of low-income consumers. This involves direct community engagement and leveraging local insights for product development and marketing strategies. Solving social issues leads to a more sustainable and inclusive economic model.

Collaborative Ecosystems

Engaging with low-income markets often requires collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including governments, NGOs, and local communities. These partnerships can enhance credibility, reduce risks, and improve market access.

Managerial Action: Managers should seek strategic partnerships that complement the company’s strengths and capabilities. This could involve collaborating on distribution channels, product development, or customer education programs to ensure solutions are accessible and adopted by the target market.

Risk Management and Adaptation

There are many obstacles to operating in low-income markets, including infrastructure limitations, political instability, and low purchasing power, and suggests strategies for risk mitigation. Assessing these and working with partners on infrastructure capabilities is critical.

Managerial Action: Companies should develop adaptable business models and contingency plans to navigate uncertainties. This includes maintaining a flexible supply chain, diversifying product offerings, and staying closely engaged with the community to anticipate and respond to changes swiftly.

How to Implement the Target The Poor Business Model Pattern

A simple staged approach to implementing the Target the Poor business model pattern:

  1. Market Research: Conduct thorough research to understand the needs, preferences, and constraints of the target demographic.
  2. Product Design: Develop or adapt products and services that meet essential needs at a cost structure that low-income consumers can afford.
  3. Cost Management: Innovate to reduce production and distribution costs without compromising quality.
  4. Community Engagement: Collaborate with local communities and stakeholders to build trust and understand market dynamics.
  5. Flexible Financing: Offer flexible payment options, such as microfinancing or pay-as-you-go models, to accommodate the financial limitations of the target market.
  6. Continuous Improvement: Implement feedback loops to continually refine and adapt offerings in response to changing needs and circumstances.

Trigger Questions

Use these trigger questions to start exploring the Target the Poor business model pattern:

  • What are the unique needs, challenges, and aspirations of our target low-income customers, and how can we design our offerings to address them?
  • How can we make our products or services affordable and accessible to low-income customers while still maintaining business viability?
  • What partnerships or collaborations can we form with local communities, organizations, or governments to better understand and serve low-income markets?
  • How can we leverage innovative distribution, financing, or customer education strategies to reach and empower low-income customers?
  • What metrics and feedback mechanisms can we use to measure the social impact and business performance of our target the poor initiatives?
  • How can we scale and replicate our successful target the poor business models to expand our reach and impact in low-income communities?

Target The Poor Business Model Pattern Examples

These are some relevant The Target the Poor business model pattern examples:

  • Grameen Bank: Pioneered microfinancing in Bangladesh, providing small loans to entrepreneurs in impoverished communities, facilitating economic empowerment and development.
  • Aravind Eye Care System: Offers high-quality eye care services in India on a scaleable model that allows free or affordable care for low-income patients, funded by higher payments from wealthier patients.
  • M-KOPA Solar: Provides affordable, pay-as-you-go solar energy systems to households in East Africa, making sustainable energy accessible to the poor.
  • Tata Nano: Attempted to make car ownership accessible to the masses in India with its ultra-low-cost vehicle, although it faced challenges in market acceptance and positioning.


The Target the Poor business model pattern is a transformative approach that prioritises economic inclusivity, enabling access to essential goods and services for low-income populations. It benefits both businesses, by opening new markets and enhancing brand value, and customers, by improving their quality of life. Successful implementation requires a deep understanding of the target demographic, innovation in cost reduction, and community engagement.

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