by Karen Coppock
An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, At the Base of the Pyramid, stated that "low-income people aren't actually a market."
While I agree with the fact that you need to create the market, I disagree with the basic premise that these individuals do not currently constitute a market. I bet that mobile phone companies and handset manufacturers would agree with me.
In research that Vital Wave Consulting conducted last year among individuals that earned as little as $1 a day, it became clear that there is a market for mobile phones and service. From maids to tamale street vendors to taxi cab drivers and doormen, almost all of the individuals we interviewed believed that a mobile phone would increase their income levels and standard of living. Since that survey, somewhere around half a billion more people have acquired mobile phones. Mobile phones are being purchased by some of the poorest people in the world because - as Iqbal Quadir has famously said - a phone can be an income-generating tool just like a cow.
Perhaps the key to creating new markets is empowering people to earn enough money to be able to purchase your goods and services. Poor people don't always have the luxury of purchasing gadgets that will save them time, but if you offer the opportunity of increased earnings, you just may create the market you are targeting.