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Enhancing New Product Adoption at the Base of the Pyramid: A Contextualized Model


  • Cheryl Nakata,

  • Kelly Weidner

Address correspondence to: Cheryl Nakata, Department of Managerial Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago, 601 S. Morgan (MC 243), Chicago, Illinois 60607. E-mail: Tel: 312-355-1337. Fax: 312–996-3559.


Companies are recognizing and pursuing the opportunity to serve the market known as the base of the pyramid (BOP), i.e., consumers who live in poverty in developing countries. The BOP constitutes the largest remaining global market frontier for businesses. Until recently, it has been ignored because of its seeming unattractiveness and insurmountable challenges compared with middle- and high-income markets. However, BOP consumers desire and are able to pay for quality products tailored to their needs. In response, firms are developing new products specific to the demands and conditions of this low-income population. To innovate effectively, ensuring new products are well received, firms need to know how to enhance new product adoption among these consumers despite the barriers of poverty. We address this need by developing a model of adoption contextualized to the BOP. Based on theories of innovation and poverty, and drawing on the emergent subsistence market literature, we propose that certain new product characteristics, social context dynamics, and marketing environment approaches moderate or counter some of the limits of poverty, making adoption possible. We then discuss the managerial and theoretical implications of our model for innovation practitioners and researchers.