In his landmark book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid,” C.K. Prahalad describes the profits that can be earned by selling products to “Bottom of the Pyramid” customers. While there is truth to this, companies face unique challenges when operating in the rural regions of emerging markets where many of these customers live. For example, the consumer population is dispersed over a wide geographic area, transportation infrastructure is often poorly developed, and many consumers have sporadic and extremely low incomes. This paper examines these challenges from a marketing channel perspective. The fundamental question is: How can companies entering into rural emerging markets design a marketing channel strategy that meets the needs of customers and allows for the long-term profitable success of the business? Ben begins answering this question by examining common challenges that companies operating in this environment face. Each challenge is accompanied by examples of companies that have solved the problem in a unique way.
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