Probably the most successful global BoP consumer product today is the mobile phone and its attendant services. While there's fodder for a separate post to follow contained within that specific sentence, this one looks at the reasonably maturing market as a frame of reference by which to evaluate the last point made in the previous post about considering the BoP as your most demanding customers. Some snippets from the news before I summarize the lessons learned from observing those at the BoP up close and personally for a couple of years now.
From The Phnom Penh Post dated December 17th, 2009,
Interest was strong, with price appearing to be a key consideration. The hottest sellers were low-end mobile phones retailing for US$14 and $17, as well as the firm’s $25 Methome device, which looks like a landline but runs off a mobile network. Many customers displayed intimate knowledge of tariffs and handset prices, quickly spotting any change from the last promotional visit. Though many sales seemed to hinge on these price points, most customers also seemed to have a solid grasp of comparative network quality. Many more had an eye to the future, looking for advanced products and 3G connectivity. Plenty for the customers to think about, and the operators, too. ~ JEREMY MULLINS
And coverage from the abs-cbn news from 20th December 2009 aptly titled "Getting to know the sophisticated prepaid user",
And why just rely on remote news articles, recall my rental car driver in New Delhi firmly dismissing the much advertised telco 'price wars' offering him prepaid plans at just one paisa a minute by saying he had a plan which cost only 50p a minute, thus saving him 10 whole paise.
What we're increasingly beginning to see is that regardless of varying levels of education or numeracy, language or culture, urban or rural or Asian or African, the BoP customer is savvy, demanding and an extremely sophisticated financial analyst in a manner that most of us – dazed by the clever pricing strategies in supermarkets – can only dream of being in our everyday lives.
Summarizing the observations made on the buying behaviour of this demographic, we can say that they tend to:
- Maximise the return on their investment (every purchase is considered such)
- Minimize their risk by
- Choosing reputable and/or proven brands
- Relying on a number of trusted recommendations and other's experiences
- Waiting to purchase until proof of performance and commitment is demonstrated