Quote of the Day: Life is hard – Niti Bhan of Emerging Futures Lab

Life is hard - Niti Bhan of Emerging Futures Lab
Niti Bhan at Better World by Design. Photo by White African

Niti Bhan, the mind behind Perspective 2.0 and the Emerging Futures Lab, doesn’t waste time by sugar-coating her message. She starts and ends her talk telling it like it is: “Life is hard.” In this hard life, people, particularly the billions of people living at the bottom of the pyramid, are continually faced with hard choices. With limited funds, many parents are dealt with trying to figure out which child to buy shoes for or whether to buy food now or buy tools that would assure a lot more food in the future. There is a new movement to think of people in the BoP as potential customers, but not so many people understand that they are also very effective strategic money managers.

People who are interested in designing products for these customers, need to understand the circumstances and value systems under which they make purchasing decisions.

Circumstances:Life is hard

  • the only certainty is uncertainty (in time and money). there is only chaos
  • irregular and unpredictable incomes
  • instrastructural limitations (water, bus, electricity)
  • tradeoffs are a fact of life (meals vs. text books)
  • mostly investments in the future (outside of those few purchases like coke, cigs)

see haiti game of life****

complex value processing for daily survival – constantly juggling income against expenses

familiar with loans, barter, swap, trade, credit, interest rates but not in those terms- yet majority are not banking or even aware of things like ATM;s, banks, credit cards, etc

budgeting, hording, and management of airtime minutes where cost is prohibitive

Purchasing patterns on irregular and unpredictable incomes
how do we create transaction models
buying in bulk (fixed remittances, pensioners, grants for students, migrants workers sending money homes)
pay as you go prepaid model (eskom distrib – prepaid electricity)
sachet marketing or single use low cost package (see next 4 billion) – 😦 seen as a success, works for some things but not others
rama – margarine

on demand, within constraints (when you have cash, you can buy a portion of a vegetable) in new dehli… 2 eggs and a 1/4 cabbage


every purchase is an investment, folks trying to Maximizing return on investment

how do you explain the success of unilever.

repair and renew. not bought with 9-12 month replacement cycle, does it have a resale value (a lot of people are using end of life phones)

reuse and refurbish
example used mufflers

preventive care to extend lifespan (plastic wrapped tv)

BoP “consumer ‘ mindset

max inROI
min risk
strat $ mngt
high ‘bullshit’ meter, folks are very cynical
proof of performance

Mainstream consumer culture vs. BoP customer = Values Gap

tried and true over new and improved
pay as you go over buy now and pay later
recyclle and reuse over throwaway and replace
life is had, make it easy to choose and easy to use

erickson – 30 bucks phone
45 – phone

principles to bridge the values gap

uncover and map the values gap – compare existing solutions available and their proposition as it maps on to the values/mindset for the BOP market. The gaps are the opportunity spaces for innovation

maximize constraints, minimize resources

maximize teh freemium – help ensure greater user acceptance and lowers the dropout rate in the BOP market

ex flickr, a way to try, then they are hooked

cross pollination first – why reinvent the wheel when you can use it as a precursor or first prototype from which to build you eventual solution

ex. a lot of what is coming out of afrigadget are first precursors of what will work contextually.

You know if would be great to have a

Question: theory of marketing; implementation

bhan moves away from the word consumer – consumer consume (devour) and the world cannot … if the other 90% consume at the rates of the richest 10% ; prefers customers, clients

Advertising and marketing communications in India

she doesn’t want to be a legend, she wants to be the voice of the people

Life is hard
women are the bottom of the pyramid in the 3rd world
she doesn’t want them to be consumers