n Management Dynamics : Journal of the Southern African Institute for Management Scientists - Where practice meets theory : defining and reviewing the bottom of the pyramid for South African marketers




The concept 'bottom of the pyramid' refers to the world's largest but poorest socio-economic group. Despite their poverty, consumers in this segment are an increasingly attractive target market. However, the extant literature has tended to view these consumers as individuals acting in a social vacuum. By contrast, drawing upon the cultural dimensions literature, this study departs from an atomised view of consumers and adopts a collectivist perspective to describe the South African bottom of the pyramid.

This study uses household data from the All Media and Product Survey and Ward's method of cluster analysis to segment the South African market. The empirical results suggest a four-cluster solution with the largest segment (35.8%) representing the bottom of the pyramid. The segment is described, and compared to wealthier segments, in terms of market size, spending power, durable goods ownership, and brand preferences across several product categories.


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