O&M India to present a paper at Harvard Business School

The agency will make a presentation at a conference on ‘Global Poverty – Business Solutions and Approaches’ at the Harvard Business School on December 1

John Goodman, CEO, O&M India and South Asia, and Kunal Sinha, executive director, O&M Discovery (O&M’s planning and knowledge unit), will present a paper on ‘Marketing to India’s Underserved’ at a conference on ‘Global Poverty – Business Solutions and Approaches’ at the Harvard Business School on December 1, 2005.

This is being done in collaboration with John Quelch, senior associate dean, Harvard Business School, and Lincoln Filene, professor, business administration, Harvard Business School, along with Ajay Mookerjee, executive director, India Research Center, Harvard Business School.

Speaking to agencyfaqs!, Goodman says, “The synopsis is about marketing at the bottom of the pyramid – that is rural areas and slums. We will share our expertise on issues such as micro-finance, distribution and marketing in rural areas.”

The objective of the conference is to explore how serving the poor can be a profitable business proposition and can help improve the lives of the world’s impoverished men and women. Other papers being presented from India include a case study on ITC’s ‘e-choupal’ and insights from Unilever’s Project Shakti.

Until the 1990s, businesses in India focused only on the rich and middle class consumers. As the income levels of the poor have risen dramatically over the past decade, so has demand for the sorts of products and services purchased by low-income consumers, creating a huge market potential.

O&M India has adapted participatory appraisal techniques, including wealth and village mapping and timeline methodologies, and developed media reach indices by socio-cultural and purchasing power segments to tailor mass and new media choices. As per the interviews conducted for this synopsis, it was revealed that the approaches required to market to the poorer masses differ significantly from the marketing approaches employed in higher income markets. Among the companies studied were Hindustan Lever Ltd, CavinKare, Castrol Engine Oils, Kodak, Bajaj Auto, and State Bank of India Credit Cards.

As organised competition in the poor market is scarce, market entrants, lacking requisite support infrastructure such as suppliers, distributors and consumer education, must create their own business ecosystems from scratch. In this process, significant social value is created.

Organised by the Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative and sponsored by the division of research and faculty development, the conference will bring together committed scholars such as professors George Lodge, Tarun Khanna, David Ellwood, C K Prahalad, Jay Light (dean, Harvard Business School) and James Austin.

In addition, corporate leaders such as Robert Hart, CEO, Globeleq, Kurt Hoffman from Shell Foundation, Monique Maddy from Google and S Sivakumar, chief executive, Agri Business, ITC, will also be present at the conference.

Several non-profit organisation and government leaders, including Ray Offenheiser, Allen Hammond and Djorjija Petkoski from the World Bank, Sanjay Gandhi from UNDP and Christopher Crane, CEO, Opportunity International, will discuss the role of business in poverty alleviation.

By examining the social, economic and geographic conditions faced by the poor through case studies and empirical research, the participants and speakers hope to gain a deeper understanding of the many ways in which business can create value at the base of the economic pyramid.

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

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