How to viably market and distribute beneficial products to the BoP


The Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business, Hystra
Published on
June 2016
3 videos

Key Learnings

In this three-part webinar series, Hystra, in partnership with the Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business, tackles strategies for marketing and selling beneficial goods to consumers at the Base of the Pyramid. The series explores 3 learning areas:

  • how to create demand; 
  • which price points and financial mechanisms to consider; and
  • marketing and distribution options.


Businesses are struggling to activate demand for their products among those at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP). Since CK Prahalad described the “Fortune at the Base of the Pyramid” over ten years ago, hundreds of for-profit and not-for-profit ventures have developed beneficial goods for the BoP such as solar lanterns or water purifiers, or more expensive home improvement packages or latrines. Others seek to market Fast Moving Consumer Goods such as fortified foods, anti-bacterial soaps or mosquito repellents. The market at the BoP, however, is hard to crack and creating consumer demand for new products is a major challenge. As a result, few organizations have succeeded. Why is this? How can this change?

Based on seven years of in-depth analysis of the business models and marketing and sales processes of those organizations that have been successful, Hystra has created a management workshop that helps companies design or review their sales and marketing strategies at the BoP. The workshop has been conducted with over 40 companies, including leading inclusive businesses such as d.light, Living Goods, SolarNow and Ecofiltro, helping them sell more, have more impact and improve their economics. These workshops have also allowed Hystra to validate and further refine its marketing and sales findings, some of which will be presented in this free webinar series.

The webinar series is based on work over the past 7 years, in which Hystra has conducted 9 sectoral studies on 7 sectors of BoP markets, identifying and analysing over 1,500 organizations attempting to deliver beneficial products and services to the BoP. From those studied, in-depth analysis has been done of 120 “best practices” representative of various business models, with field visits for over 90 of those, representing over 200 days in the field in 23 different countries.


Webinar 1: Designing a winning value proposition and financial offer

This webinar explores the key triggers that prompt BoP clients to purchase beneficial goods and how to integrate these in a winning value proposition. Appropriate price points and the financial arrangements (e.g. credit) needed for clients to be able to afford these products are also discussed.

Philip Wilson, CEO of Ecofiltro illustrates how his company has reached 185,000 rural customers in Guatemala, with water filters sold with an innovative financing model including a free trial option.


Duration: 64 minutes


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Webinar 2: Choosing an appropriate marketing approach 

This webinar discusses which marketing channels, activities and messages are the most (cost-)effective to first, convince early adopters to purchase these new products, and second, accelerate the purchase cycle for followers. It emphasises the importance of word-of-mouth and discusses how it can be reinforced. 

Willem Nolens, CEO of SolarNow, a company that has provided over 12,000 solar systems for SMEs and households in East Africa, explains how his company is now transitioning from a product centric model to a customer centric model, focusing on client satisfaction to improve sales.


Duration: 62 minutes


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Webinar 3: Setting up effective (last mile) distribution mechanisms

This webinar analyses various approaches to distributing beneficial goods to the BoP, both in urban and rural areas. The participants discuss how the type of products sold should influence the organization of the sales force and distribution channels and which triggers can limit sales force churn. It concludes with a word on the back office processes required to support efficient distribution systems.


Duration: 77 minutes


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