Markets and marketing at the bottom of the pyramid

Katy Mason, Ronika Chakrabarti, Ramendra Singh
  • Marketing Theory, May 2017, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1470593117702286

What needs to be done to make 'good', inclusive markets?

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash

What is it about?

How do markets that are inclusive of people living in poverty work? What are the tools and practices that people use to engage in markets when the resources they have are scarce, there is little spare money about but equally, when family, friends and culture are a rich part of everyday life? This paper is an introduction to a Special Issue of Marketing Theory that considers these questions. We suggest that how we explain and talk about markets that include and enable the poor to engage, will open up new opportunities that enable those living in poverty to take a full and active role in socio-economic life.

Why is it important?

The ideas discussed in this paper are important for those wanting to create an inclusive society because it directs our attention to aspects of society that we have not considered as critical to enabling market engagement before. We suggest that understanding the role different social histories, cultures, practices, tools and technologies, and social initiatives that sometimes appear distant and nothing to do with enabling economic engagement in markets, are really significant in helping us to create setting that support 'trade not aid'.


Professor Katy Jane Mason
Lancaster University

Enabling 'trade not aid' matters because despite the effort of some societies to help others, some social groups to support others, as 'one world' we have failed to prevent or alleviate poverty. By developing better understanding of how markets actually work in these extreme settings; by looking at them as complex clusters of entangled sociology-technical practices, we can ask constructive questions that help us reconceptualise the infrastructures, cultural settings and routine practices and resources that are available (from friendships to raw materials and roads), needed a enable people to provide the things their friends and families need through their engagement as market actors (as consumers and producers).

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The following have contributed to this page: Professor Ramendra Singh and Professor Katy Jane Mason