Bottom of the Pyramid

Branded by Poverty

Posted on April 27, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Blog. 2 comments

Over the last ten years, with the publishing of CK Prahalad’s book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid and with inclusion gaining ground as a national buzz word, companies have been looking in larger numbers at rural markets for all sorts of products. Yet for every success in rural India, the marketplace is littered with many, many failures. What has been the problem?

From my vantage point inside a company that operates predominantly in villages, I have a first-hand view. Not a week goes by when we are not introduced to a company with a product opportunity that they would like us to help them market in rural areas. It is an innovative product they tell us, specifically designed to solve a problem, meet an urgent need. And it is affordable. Shouldn’t that be enough? People from the villages … Read More »

It’s not a pyramid!

Posted on February 28, 2011 by Tara Thiagarajan in Physics of Poverty, Writing. 1 Comment

CK Prahalad’s book ‘The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid’ firmly established our visual impression of the world’s economic landscape as a pyramid. So much so that ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ or ‘BoP’ has become part of daily lingo. Except it’s not a pyramid. A 3D visualization of how income or wealth is distributed in most countries, including India, looks nothing like a pyramid. It looks like this:

So what’s in an image? A lot actually. There’s a reason for the saying ‘an image is worth a thousand words’. The pyramid suggests to us that the problem of poverty is a lot less dramatic than it actually is. The real picture presents a problem of far greater magnitude than we might ever have imagined. If you are seeking the fortune at the bottom, you might think that this suggests a … Read More »

It’s not a pyramid!

Posted on October 11, 2010 by Tara Thiagarajan in Uncategorized. 4 comments

CK Prahalad’s book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid has firmly established our visual impression of how incomes are distributed as a pyramid. A strong, solid structure with the poorest at the bottom that slowly tapers, kind of holding up the apex. In reality it looks NOTHING like a pyramid. Here’s a 3D visualization of what it looks like based on real income distributions. Of course, if I had a lot of time on my hands I’d figure out how to plot it in 3D a lot better, maybe starting with a square shape rather than a circle so it compares better to a pyramid. But I don’t. You get the picture though. (To get more of a sense for what income distributions are like check out my earlier posts Who Cares about the … Read More »