Why Include the BOP in your International Marketing Strategy

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The purpose of this paper is to test the premise that brand growth can come from targeting the poorest consumers at the bottom of the economic pyramid (BOP). This study is the first that uses quantitative marketplace data covering BOP consumer purchase records.


The study uses newly available panel data from Egypt covering 15 months and 35 categories of frequently bought consumer goods. Brand penetration rates for socio-demographic tiers are established to explore brand purchasing. The metrics are: penetration, the number of buyers a brand has; and loyalty as measured by purchase frequency and share of category requirements.


Buyer behaviour patterns for the poorest consumers do not differ much from those in advanced economies; all brand performance metrics vary according to brand penetration – a double jeopardy effect, and the biggest brands are those that target the whole market, including the base.

Research limitations/implications

Data are from one country only and while the results confirm that patterns of brand buying in this BOP segment are like those in other markets, more research needs to be done to confirm the finding.

Practical implications

The biggest brands are those with the most customers, even if those customers are poor and do not buy very often. Growth can therefore be based on marketing interventions that appeal to the largest possible customer base.

Social implications

There are 2bn BOP consumers worldwide. This research shows that they may already be marginal members of modern economies and consumer culture.


This paper extends previous research on brand buying behaviour for the first time to the vast base of poor consumers who make up around half of the world’s population. This research shows that strategic approaches that emphasise increasing penetration are most likely to result in brand growth.