Analyzing the Role of ICT in Market Development at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Market Separations Perspective

We examine the research question: How can Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) facilitate market development at the "Bottom of the Pyramid" (BOP)? Integrating concepts from the theory of Market Separations and the Automate-Informate-Transform classification of Information Systems (IS) roles, from the marketing and IS literatures respectively, we develop propositions describing how ICT can reduce or bridge particular types of market separations that "dis-connect" consumers from producers at the BOP, thus facilitating market development at the BOP. Analyzing qualitative primary (interviews with 32 respondents in India) and secondary data we find that consumers and producers in markets at the BOP are indeed separated from one another due to spatial, temporal, financial and informational separations. Application of ICT through the automate-informate-transform roles can bridge these four market separations to facilitate exchange and consumption, leading to beneficial social and economic outcomes for BOP individuals. Contributions and implications of our findings for IS and marketing literatures are discussed.