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Umeå University (2010)

Marketing Services in Emerging Economies : A case study of a base of the pyramid initiative in Kenya

Ericson, Johannes

Titre : Marketing Services in Emerging Economies : A case study of a base of the pyramid initiative in Kenya

Auteur : Ericson, Johannes

Université de soutenance : Umeå University

Grade : Master (Two Years) 2010

Recent studies have focused on the vast opportunities for multinational corporations to offer their products and services to emerging consumer markets. It has been proven that private enterprises can play a huge role in alleviating poverty within poor communities at the base of the economic pyramid (BOP). Theory building in this area is still in its infancy and the current theoretical frameworks have been developed based on cases from China, India, Mexico and Brazil. Research from Sub-Saharan Africa is almost nonexistent by comparison, even though Africa has the highest proportion of its people living in poverty. There is clearly a need to conduct case studies in these low-income consumer markets to encourage theory building within this geographical and cultural context. Community Cleaning Services (CCS) is a business initiative based on a partnership between the American company S.C. Johnson and local BOP communities. Given the increasing presence of BOP projects and services in these consumer markets, this thesis aims to answer the question ; how do multinational companies market services to the base of the pyramid ? An answer to this question is provided by presenting and analyzing empirical data from S.C. Johnson‟s BOP Project in Kenya. The aim is to conceptualize Community Cleaning Service‟s way of doing business in the urban slums of Nairobi and the impact it has on its stakeholders. _ An inductive strategy was preferred due to the scarce number of cases coming from BOP research in Africa. Case study research can be beneficial in the early stages of research to generate new ideas of exploration and stimulate hypothesis generation. The case study evidence is based on 22 interviews, group discussions and in-field observations from the urban slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Due to the nature of a single case study design, statistical generalization cannot be claimed. The theoretical foundation of the BOP proposition is presented and the argument for a more pragmatic exploration of the BOP market is evident. Models for conceptualizing CCS‟s marketing activities are explained and evaluated to show their applicability within a service context. The empirical findings are presented and analyzed through a marketing plan structure to facilitate an understanding of the subjects discussed. Some important areas covered are CCS‟s entrepreneurs and their customers, their marketing mix and their external and internal environment. This case study contributed to existing research by further emphasizing the importance of using local partnerships and intermediaries to co-create a service concept. However, it became evident that being too closely associated with NGOs can hurt the core business, and thus further research must explore how strategic alliances should be structured to avoid this. The study highlighted the importance of understanding the BOP consumer and that objective or rational appeals (e.g. quality and health benefits) might not always be recommended for targeting this customer segment. Instead, understanding consumer aspirations towards achieving social status and dignity can be far more important to generate sales.

Mots Clés  : BOP ;Base of the Pyramid ;Services Marketing ;Marketing Services ;Kenya;Sustainability ;Cleaning Services ;Emerging Economies ;Marketing Plan ;Case study ;Sustainable Businesses ;Sanitation;Sanitation Marketing


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