Marketing: Selling to The Poor

There is a surprisingly lucrative market in targeting low-income consumers

Hoang Dinh Nam / AFP / Getty

Despite their poverty, lower class farmers have the same needs as richer urbanites.

The floodplains of Soc Trang Province in Vietnam's Mekong Delta are a maze of rivers and canals dotted with villages so impoverished that local farmers earn less than $1 a day. It is not an obvious place to seek a fortune, but capitalism finds a way. Steering his ramshackle boat along the Ke Sat River, Nguyen Van Hon operates a floating sundries distributorship.

The wooden hold of his boat is heavy with boxes containing small bars of Lifebuoy soap and single-use sachets of Sunsilk shampoo and Omo laundry detergent, which he sells to riverside shopkeepers for as little as 2.5¢ each....

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