Bata targets low-income markets
Friday, February 21, 2014
Life in the Bangladeshi countryside is tough. More than half (53 percent) of the country’s rural residents are classified as “poor”, with many living on less than $2 per day. As a consequence, most consumer goods companies have traditionally paid them little heed. Retailing and logistical complications compound this disinterest: Bangladesh’s villages tend to have precious few shops and pretty awful roads.
Bata’s Aparajitas programme marks an ingenious attempt to get around these constraints. In a reversal of traditional retail models, the family-owned Czech footwear company brings its products to the consumer rather than vice-versa. Bata works with around 3,000 village-based vendors, who market its products door-to-door. Each vendor receives around 10-15 percent commission for every pair of shoes sold.
To avoid the logistical headaches of rural distribution, Bata runs 54 regional distribution centres around the country. It delivers its shoes to these hubs, from where development charity CARE International—which has partnered the company since the programme’s launch in 2005—collects them. CARE’s local representatives then deliver the shoes by motorbike or small car directly to the village vendors.