Marketing essentials for targeting low-income consumers

Benjamin van der Hilst
By on January 26, 2015

You have developed a fantastic product or service for low-income consumers. Excellent! But now what? The real work has only just begun.

Your offer may be attractive, but it will not sell itself. You need to make your target group aware of your offer, you need to convince them of its value, and you need to get both your message and your offer to the consumer. So far, this is conventional marketing. But what if your consumer has little income to spare, lives in an area with poor infrastructure and does not have access to conventional sales points such as supermarkets?

Particularly in BoP markets, marketing and distribution can be challenging. Retail channels may not exist or are seriously underdeveloped, inefficient and overpriced. Consumers may live in cramped and inaccessible slums or remote towns and villages. Marketing messages can be difficult to convey as many BoP consumers are illiterate, speak a variety of local languages, often have had little education and lack access to digital and print media.

This does not imply that it cannot be done. I work with businesses that serve low-income groups on a daily basis. And over the last years I’ve seen inclusive businesses succeeded and fail in overcoming the marketing and distribution challenge. It is one of the key challenges for small businesses and multinationals alike.

An interesting example is Nestle’s ‘Cooking Caravans’. Nestle provides high quality nutritious food products to low-income consumers. Their target group lacks sufficient knowledge on food and nutrition to value Nestle’s offer. Therefore the marketing campaign creates awareness on the importance of balanced diets, micro-nutrients, and food hygiene as well as creating a buzz on product and brand.

Nestle Flickr Maggi

Nestle’s ‘Cooking Caravan’.

The Cooking Caravans travel throughout Central and West Africa and organize cooking demonstrations, women forums and presentations on micronutrient fortification. Nestle has also adapted the product package size to meet the demands of the consumers: single serving sizes affordable for even the smallest budgets.

With these cooking caravans Nestle has been able to create a lot of attention for their product and brand. They have also created an opportunity for their target group to experience the product without any risk involved. A good marketing strategy is about attracting Attention, building Trust, enabling Experience, triggering Action and Retaining your customers (ATEAR). In our work we use the ATEAR model to both analyse existing marketing strategies, and co-create new ones.

The IB Accelerator is now launching a 4-week bootcamp to master this and other methods for developing marketing and distribution strategies. As an entrepreneur, you get the key insights in marketing and distribution to Base-of-the-Pyramid consumers. You will get the opportunity to learn from experts in marketing and distribution and use the knowledge for your own marketing and distribution strategy. In an online setting, you will meet experts and peers from around the globe. Your venture will be visible on the IB Accelerator platform and strong performers will be introduced to our community of investors (see

Get the inspiration. Get the insights.
We look forward to meet you at the Bootcamp!
More info and registration at: (Update: registration period has ended 15/2)

Photos: Nestle Flickr photo stream, creative commons