Low-income consumers in developing regions have grown increasingly aware of the rapid growth taking place in the domestic markets around them. In 2010, 76 percent of direct-to-home subscribers to televised media in India hailed from lower-income smaller cities and rural regions.4 More and more such consumers have also become aware of the income opportunities presented by organized commercial markets. Proliferation of bank accounts among low-income communities in emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India and Nigeria, testify to this awareness.
Large businesses now have the opportunity to tap low-income communities’ rising ambition to participate in organized domestic markets. Innovations that overcome infrastructural and institutional deficits to connect low-income communities with fast-growing, close-athand consumer markets often generate profits for the companies that create them. Alibaba.com, the Hangzhou-based Internet company, has discovered this firsthand. The company has taken advantage of Chinese consumers’ growing fondness for shopping online to develop an e-commerce platform that enables low-income furniture makers to market their products to increasingly wealthy urban consumers. The opportunity to obtain access to urban consumer markets through this platform has motivated participating carpenters to boost their productivity and meet production schedules.