What You Should Know About Marketing in Less Developed Countries

farmer on cell phoneInternational marketing is big business, but it’s not just about the middle and upper middle classes. Believe it or not, it’s also important to target average citizens of less developed countries. Let’s look at why.

Why Marketing Hasn’t Targeted the Rural Poor

For a lot of smaller companies that are doing international business, failing to market to the rural poor is simply because people who do not fall squarely into the middle class or above are something of an afterthought. Lack of competition means that, as a result, larger corporations usually have the upper hand in the system. For the average citizen small farmer, access to products and services is a lot more difficult to come by – which means that businesses are not targeting those people.

What many businesses are failing to note is that the rural poor still use products like cell phones – which means that programs from companies like Jana are able to help a lot of people. In this case, when a rural Kenyan hospital was running out of blood, supplying something as simple as a cell phone to the drivers who were transporting vital deliveries no longer had to go all the way to and from the hospital to find out where the shortages were. Jana now markets in 55 markets around the world, using cell phones to distribute coupons and surveys to rural consumers internationally.

Rural Citizens Have Become Entrepreneurs

On the other hand, the international market is also based locally, which means that farmers who operate on a smaller scale are actually having their goods bought by larger corporations. That means that even corporate supermarkets are purchasing wholesale produce from these farmers. What it comes down to is this: many rural citizens of developing nations have already bought into the market on the other side of the equation. Programs work with rural communities in places like Kenya to support small-scale farmers to grow the high quality produce that is in demand all over the nation.

That’s how programs like Amiran operate. Amiran is a company that has figured out its marketing niche. They have a system where farmers who buy their farming kits also have access to agricultural education – so they are learning new skills, growing food organically, and ultimately selling their own products for much higher revenue.

The Takeaway

If you’re in international marketing and trying to break into this niche, you don’t have to focus on agriculture. Businesses like Amiran are successful because they find needs in the market to fill: needs that consumers have. For international rural consumers, purchasing products from companies like these comes down to forming a partnership with the business. So just like with any marketing venture, if you are trying to market to a target demographic, it’s important to figure out what they need – by building a relationship based on trust and communication. It might be that the product or service you already offer could fit in with a need for this type of consumer.

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Tree is a somewhat nomadic graduate student pursuing an MFA in Poetry and Literary Translation from Drew University. A self-identified “diplobrat,” she spent over 16 years living as an expat in countries like Guatemala, Bolivia, and Tanzania. Tree graduated from Smith College in 2012 with a degree in Spanish Language and Literature, a minor in Studio Art, and a concentration in Landscape Studies. In between writing poetry for school and content for CEM, she dabbles in goat herding and freelancing. Other interests include reading, watercolor painting, gardening, and traveling.

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