While American ad types drone on and on about social media, iPads and crowdsourcing, marketers in emerging markets are solving more basic problems when it comes to reaching consumers.
The Economist has a fascinating look at some of the efforts:
The most difficult trick of all is what some call “straddling the pyramid” or “playing the piano”: serving both the people at the bottom of the pyramid and those at the top. The acknowledged masters of this are consumer-goods giants such as P&G and Unilever. These companies not only rigorously segment their markets by income level, they also lead consumers up the value chain as they become richer. A couple of decades ago Unilever noted that rural Indians were in the habit of washing their clothes with bars of soap, so it first offered detergents in a bar and then began to introduce its customers to washing powder. The company is now trying to pull off a similar trick with tea in the Middle East. Most people in the region prepare their tea from leaves, but Unilever has introduced tea bags that appeal to local tastes and has started selling them in trendy cafés.
China’s Haier has proved particularly good at market segmentation. It produces a line of extremely robust washing machines for rural users, having discovered that older models frequently got clogged with mud because farmers were using them to clean vegetables as well as clothes. It also makes small washing machines that are just right for young urban professionals, many of whom live in tiny apartments.
As a side note, The Economist has had some great ad campaigns over the years. Read the magazine itself–it’s even better than the ad campaign makes it out to be.