“Peddling Poor Products to the Poor: What’s Our Responsibility?” (Grant Tudor) – published on Next Billion on December 9, 2011
- For years, it has been a priority for large consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies like Nestle, Unilever, etc. to create and distribute special products designed for the “Bottom of the Pyramid” (BoP), or very poor population in emerging markets. In fact, this BoP market has been hailed to be a beautiful opportunity that would allow firms to innovate through packaging, distribution and product features, create revenue growth, and meanwhile meet the needs of the poor through access to more and better goods.
- However, the sharp rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in recent years appears to be a consequence of what some could consider irresponsible marketing, coupled with product offerings that are not just low in nutritional value but can cause serious health problems if not consumed in measured amounts. Take for example Nestle: its Milo brand chocolate cereals packs 34g of sugar per serving. Coupled with how widespread Nestle brands are in emerging markets like Africa (anywhere up to 80%), this makes them in the eye of some critics likely culprits for the rise in NCDs.
- Thus, what is the responsibility of multinational companies, such as CPG giants like Nestle, towards ensuring that their products sold to the BoP in emerging markets promote more benefit than they do harm?