Emerging technologies such as drones, sensors, mesh networks and IoT have significant potential to bring new life-changing services and benefits to places where infrastructure and ICT access is still limited. Nevertheless, many companies have already failed in the attempt to bring new solutions to the underserved population in emerging markets due to gaps in understanding capability and lack of systemic approach....
University College London
Xerox Research Centre, India
This paper explores how the ‘Free Basics’ initiative in India got transformed into a national debate on ‘net neutrality’ principle and finally led to it being banned in India. Further, this paper will also use ethnographic data to analyse how this ‘controversial’ initiative was debated, the claims it made and the actual ground level reality in the state of Tamil Nadu....
Case Study—The “bottom of the pyramid” concept has promised companies that they can simultaneously create wealth and social impact when serving the world’s poorest customers. In reality, companies have faced multiple challenges when trying to acquire and retain customers in the “bottom of the pyramid”. This case study captures the journey of one such company that is operating low-cost private schools in slums and remote villages in an African country. Despite delivering a solid educational quality, the company was facing retention issues, and was struggling to maintain a healthy student population. Leadership diagnosed that a word of mouth marketing campaign would be important to increase acquisition and retention; but it did not know where to start. By designing a place-based ethnographic approach, ReD was able to gain the customer centric insights needed to design a new value proposition and engagement model that tapped into and leveraged word-of-mouth social...
MARIA FLÁVIA BASTOS
UNA, Campus Liberdade & Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil
Teachers College, Columbia University & Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil
ARMINDO DOS SANTOS DE SOUSA TEODOSIO
Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil
Social businesses are organizations aimed at addressing social problems through business and marketing strategies. Of particular concern are issues connected to poverty, social inclusion among emerging consumers and sustainable development (Travagline, Bandini, Mancinione, 2009; Márquez et al. 2010). However, due to its hybrid nature that pulls from different sectors, the notion of social businesses is generating significant debate among scholars and practitioners regarding its purpose, approaches, and identity. In an effort to shine a light on how the concept of social business is developing and playing out in a particular city in South America, this study examines the ecosystem...
by LAURA SCHEIBER, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais and EPIC2016 Papers Committee, Ethnography/Emerging Consumers Curator
For several decades ‘Emerging’ has been a staple prefix applied to such entities as markets, nations, democracies, cultures, and business opportunities. The term has been used to label virtually anything about “less-developed” Others deemed “new” to the world of market-led consumption, especially by corporate actors looking for new markets and consumers worldwide.
Work in this area ranges from bottom-up players in the repair ecology of ICT businesses in a place like Dharavi, Mumbai, to top-down initiatives like Facebook’s internet.org, aiming to provide basic internet (framed as a human right) to disadvantaged citizens around the world. It explores topics as disparate as the dynamic worlds of micro-entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises; the desires of aspirational middle income groups in emerging contexts; or the strategies of actors near ‘the poverty line’,...
Understanding Internet connectivity in remote regions presents a host of logistical and methodological challenges. As researchers and business professionals, we cannot just assume that these places are simply Unconnected. We must understand the challenges people face in connecting, in what ways they have connectivity, and in what ways they do not. This paper examines research methods and framing to investigate Internet connectivity options for residents of the diverse terrain of the Himalayan foothills....
by PATRICIA L. SUNDERLAND, Practica Group, LLC
You’ve probably been there—in a security line at Laguardia airport, still fuzzy with jet lag. I stood in one recently—just a few days after returning from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—and certain quotidian details of life in the US were still jumping out in shocking relief.
In front of me were two women and a baby around 18 months old; perhaps mother, daughter, grandmother. In a sudden gesture the older woman got out of line, hastily bid her goodbyes, and ran off. Why run away like that, leave her daughter and granddaughter just standing there in line rather than spend the mere minute or two more it would take see them go through? Did she have an appointment to keep? Was she eager to avoid an extra charge at airport parking?
I was surprised because this casual scene in the US is an unlikely one in Ethiopia. There, relations with people matter more than almost anything else, and time is not a precious commodity; time extends, “time is your friend” I heard there.
As I mused...
NIMMI RANGASWAMY and KENTARO TOYAMA
The paper attempts to analyse rapidly changing rural Indian socio-economic landscapes from a recent empirical study of rural PC kiosks. Rural contexts in India are essentially composite and digitally immature communication ecologies. Some of the questions we wanted to answer were as follows: How do computing technologies find their way into a rural community? Who are the people driving this technology? How technology is being received by the community? Breaking away from a committed long-term participatory ethnography in a bounded field, we consider an array of wider contexts and a repertoire of methods available for qualitative research to study societies in transition....
SUZANNE L. THOMAS and TONY SALVADOR
This paper addresses three main issues: the fixation on the individual in corporate research, the emic need to privilege and represent relationships driving the political and cultural economic lived experience and the pressing need to find useful, effective ways engage corporate structures that otherwise are impervious to “views of the collective”. That is, we argue for a reframing of ethnographic work in industry (in some instances) from that of the individual to that of sufficiently contextually complete relationships people have with other people and institutions, especially when working with “emerging markets.” We rely on data and sources from comparative ethnographic work over time in several countries to identify what we need to study and to suggest new, more powerful directions for our research. We also suggest implications for how to navigate within corporate structures in order to liberate ourselves and our work....
ALEXANDRA MACK and DINA MEHTA
As more and more corporate ethnographic work is crossing international borders, we are increasingly collaborating with teams that are spread across the globe. As a result, we need tools that enable us to work across boundaries. Since early 2004, the authors have been collaborating on a research project developed by an American company seeking to develop solutions specific to the Indian market. One of us, an Indian sociologist, led a team of ethnographers in India, while the other, an American anthropologist, managed research and analysis for concept development in the US. While all of the US-based team members spent time in the field in India during the project, integrating the teams into the same “brainspace” was a challenge. This paper describes how we used social tools to enable each set of team members to understand the work being done on the other side of the world....
ELISA OREGLIA and KATHI KITNER
In rural China and India, a fragmented commercial distribution system and the lack of online shopping can significantly limit the range of consumer choice. In this paper, we look at the role that mobile phone shopkeepers—the middlemen—play in influencing what users can and will buy, but also in training them in using and understanding technology....
KATHI KITNER, RENEE KURIYAN and SCOTT D. MAINWARING
This paper will examine the social factors that mediate technology adoption among the emerging middle class in order to show how messaging, positioning, and targeting communications to potential consumers, if based on flawed representations, such as the First Time Buyer, can lead to missed market opportunities, or worse. We advocate an alternative approach based on ethnographic frameworks that can help to gauge the social viability of products, deconstructing these assumptions and notions to help smooth the path of technology adoption in emerging markets. To represent our findings, we created a “tool,” the “Social Viability Measure (SVM),” to help private industry and others approach new markets by bringing an understanding of social forces into the strategic planning, messaging and positioning of products....
It is our contention that small businesses of information and communication technologies are deeply embedded in a context of non-formal business relations and practices in developing economies. Cyber cafés in the city of Mumbai, the subject of our study, operate in and through an unregulated grey market of non-formal business practices. In this paper we explore the fit of ICTs into this ‘area’ of commercial practices. We do this by profiling café managers, business strategies and contextualizing these in the broader culture of non-formal business relationships pervading every day transactions. With regulatory discourse of information technologies centered on piracy and illegitimacy, informality of business practices in emerging economies provide an alternate premise to understand its nature and function. These challenge received notions of visualizing IT in emerging economies as simply piracy and illegality. It also implies coming to terms with markets shaped and structured by para-legal and non-formal processes...
From the perspective of industrial design, user-centered design denotes more than a methodology to understand users. More importantly, it is a medium to create a relationship between designers and users. While user-centered design has much to offer, user research is not a convention in emerging economies. In this context, this paper puts one such emerging market, Turkey, under scrutiny. Six case studies give a snapshot of the current status of product design in general, and user-centered design in particular, in this country. One of the key findings is that, compared to the West, there is a wider gap between designers and users in the Turkish context. Besides economic situations, the eclectic character of Turkish culture plays the biggest role in the expansion of this gap. The application of Western oriented research methods and concentration on global trends also stand as barriers for user-centeredness. In order to ensure products’ success through research, Turkey needs to develop its own user-centered design model....
by MARIA CURY, ReD Associates
Camila sat down on her faded pink sofa, unwrapped the bandage around her calf, and showed me a violet wound, some of the skin crusty and some of it wet. Her daughter Cecilia sat on the edge of a chair in the corner, filling gaps in the story – “remember we tried a gel that inflamed your skin,” “the pharmacy down the street never gives us enough gauze.”
At ReD Associates, we often work with big healthcare companies who seek more patient-centric approaches to product design, and our insights have implications on product, packaging, and patient-compliance. This project aimed to make wound care products relevant to more people by understanding how patients care for chronic wounds in emerging markets.
Camila, a sixty-four year-old Brazilian patient with a venous leg ulcer, was doing everything wrong. She risked infection by putting olive oil over her calf (“I know I’m not supposed to, but it’s the only thing that takes away my pain pain pain”); she used dry gauze with wisps that stuck...