Poverty, markets, and vulnerable consumers

“The poor will be always with us, but what it means to be poor depends on the kind of ‘us’ they are with … If ‘being poor’ once derived its meaning from the condition of being unemployed, today it draws its meaning primarily from the plight of a flawed consumer.” (Bauman, 2005; p.1)

Although poverty affects more than two-thirds of our planet world, yet management literature has got interested in poverty research only in the past few decades. Popularized as base of the pyramid (BoP) by Prahalad (2009), the concept of poverty affects not only responsible consumptions, but also the nature of our markets, which are skewed towards high income consumers. According to Mahajan and Banga (2005), 86% of our population is untouched by the reach of formal markets. The poor face income deprivations, material deprivation, homelessness, low literacy. In general they have faced very poor access to several other resources, which are available to other consumers having higher purchasing power. Across the globe, the popularization of the consumer culture has further led to discrimination and marginalization of the poor in the society. People living in poverty thus feel socially excluded, marginalized, and stigmatized from the market (Bauman, 2005). But tensions arise since, ‘being poor does not obviate socio-cultural aspirations to consume’ (Hamilton et al, 2014, pp 1834).

In the light of this context, this track welcomes submissions on various dimensions of poverty, markets and consumption that weaves in the realities of consumers’ income inequalities, marginalization, vulnerabilities, low-literacy, disadvantaged positions, and disabilities among others. Both theoretical and empirical works from a broad range of perspectives are encouraged.

Queries related to this track may be addressed to Professor Apoorv Khare: apoorv@iimtrichy.ac.in Professor  Ramendra Singh: ramendra@iimcal.ac.in


Bauman, Z. (2005).Work, consumerism and the new poor. Philadelphia, PA: Open University Press.

Hamilton, K., Piacentini, M. G., Banister, E., Barrios, A., Blocker, C. P., Coleman, C. A., ... & Saatcioglu, B. (2014). Poverty in consumer culture: towards a transformative social representation. Journal of Marketing Management, 30(17-18), 1833-1857.

Mahajan, V., & Banga, K. (2005). The 86 percent solution: How to succeed in the biggest market opportunity of the next 50 years. Pearson Education.

 Prahalad, C. K. (2009). The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, revised and updated 5th anniversary edition: Eradicating poverty through profits. FT Press.  

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