Marketing principles for the informal economies of the emerging world

This will be the working title of the book I plan to sit down and start writing the latest by January 2013. And I can’t start earlier than November this year because I need to see the results in the market start to come in first before I can pontificate on the topic, but naturally as they say.

I was mentioning to someone on a call just yesterday that we cannot define the informal economy, or rather it has been our attempts to do so that have led to more barriers between the formal and the informal. Why not try to describe it, give it some characteristics and possibly propose a principle or two that underlays the design?

I think that the seeming chaos of the informal economies across the rural and peri urban parts of less developed regions seems to imply automatically to those more accustomed to neat and clean systems that work in their home locations that there are no rules to this economy nor any commonly agreed standards or measures i.e. economic anarchy

This is so not true.

This old post of mine illustrates different types of “socially agreed upon” weights and measures in the informal market, not only is the variety astounding but the quantities and measures are similar across the country. Every single cyber cafe, big or small, across the country charges a shilling a minute as standard rate unless they have high competition in the neighbourhood that might make them lower it but I’ve only seen it twice in all the cybers we covered in last year’s Village Telco project.

Flexibility is the key to understanding how this economy works, and its carefully crafted hyper local “guidelines” rather than rules, as in they are socially enforced rather than through formal channels available to consumers elsewhere more privileged.

In your tiny social network/community/income source pool, you cannot afford to gain a bad reputation in transactions, work will be hard to come by. This is the basis of the naturally evolved checks and balances prevalent in the ‘systeme D’.

And so on and so forth, as you can see, it apparently seems I do have a lot to say but I’m waiting for all the anecdata that qualitative research relies upon to come in.

This entry was posted in African Consumer Market, Base of the Pyramid, Business, Consumer Behaviour, Culture, Design, Emerging Markets, Flexibility, Informal & Flexible, Marketing, Perspective, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Strategy, Sub Saharan Africa, User research and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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