An Exploratory Investigation of Aspirational Consumption at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Conference Track

Marketing Research/ Demographics/ Consumer Behavior

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Research under the topic of “Bottom of Pyramid” (BOP) has emphasized how marketing to the world’s poor, defined as an individual earning approximately $2 per day is a profitable endeavor for both national and multinational companies, as well as a major source for future organizational growth. It is argued that the poor don’t only seek to fulfill their basic needs but also spend their discretionary income on aspirational goods. Motivated to investigate the validity of this claim, we study the nature of aspirational consumption in the BoP to explain the meaning and nature of aspirational consumption of poor consumers. The data for this paper comes from a qualitative study conducted with urban poor consumers in India. Using an in-depth interview method, 58 urban poor individuals in India provided detailed accounts of what and why they aspire for. The findings point to significant insights for marketers who might be tempted to interpret the term – “aspirational consumers” to imply demand for relatively speaking luxury products and other discretionary purchases at the sacrifice of offering solutions for consumer wellbeing. The findings from this research sheds lights on the meaning of aspirational consumption as interpreted by the poor consumers and more importantly identifies the source of motivation and categories of aspiration. These findings hold significant managerial implications for companies who choose to target the BoP markets. In order to market profitably, companies need to understand the meaning of consumer aspiration and subsequently target the poor with products and services in the form of a for-profit social enterprise focused on generating social well-being.

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Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License

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