Multinationals Get Back to Basics

Monday, December 21, 2015

On August 24, 2015, for the first time, more than one billion people used Facebook in a single day.

It’s easy to think that the Internet has engulfed the world and communities across the globe are perpetually mesmerised by smartphones. Yet, the reality is very different. More than four billion people – or over half the world’s population – still don’t have access to the Internet, reports ITU, a United Nations agency.

Most of the offline communities are in developing countries, such as the African nation of Eritrea, where less than one per cent of the population has used the Internet in the past 12 months, according to World Bank figures. That said, these poorer consumers – sometimes referred to as the ‘Base of the Pyramid’ – represent the future of multinational companies and where, it has been argued, a potential fortune lies.

The plethora of sophisticated marketing tools deployed in more developed countries have little or no relevance in so called ‘media dark regions’ where there may not even be TV, radio or newspapers, combined with high levels of illiteracy.

Therefore, major brands seeking fresh territory need to find more basic methods of communication. It might come as a surprise to many that the tactics of highly sophisticated companies, such as Unilever, are rudimentary, to say the least.

In India, for example, with a rural population of 800 million (bigger than Europe), tens of thousands of “foot soldier” women are employed to walk into the countryside and sell household products under a micro-franchising scheme called Project Shakti (Shakti meaning strength).

Source: Khaleej Times (link opens in a new window)