Lauren Abendschein

Behavioral Economists Target the BOP

behavioral economistsWhen it comes to marketing to the BOP, the challenges go well beyond simply finding a product or service that is useful. Successful organizations have spent years refining their models before finding an effective way to reach the poor as consumers. Those organizations that have found innovative ways to reach the BOP have been well rewarded (see yesterday?s post about WaterHealth International).

In concert with increasing attention by development practitioners, behavioral economists are turning their efforts toward the BOP market. A recent article in Harvard Magazine describes the work of one such economist, Nava Ashraf:

Ashraf is now working with Population Services International?a nonprofit organization that seeks to focus private-sector resources on the health problems of developing nations?on a project in Zambia to motivate people to use a water purification solution known as Clorin. ?We can use what marketing people have known all along,? Ashraf says. ?There are ways of manipulating people’s psychological frameworks to get them to buy things. How do you use this knowledge to get them to adopt socially useful products or services? It’s so practical, and very important in development, for anybody who wants to help people reach their goals.?

At a time when development organizations and businesses are increasingly finding success through engaging with the BOP as consumers, attention to this market couldn?t be more important.