You live and learn, they say. I was in a little alley way in Delhi a few weeks back. Now, I wonder what I was doing there, but it so happened that my footsteps did take me there. As I was sitting there, I was quite focussed on the sweat that was pouring down my face. It was a hot and humid day. The peak temperature had crossed 46 degrees Celsius, and I had spent the day in the sun, doing manual work.
So, the sweat was pouring down my face, even though it was now about 5 pm, and I was feeling rather grubby. I was very conscious of the flies that were flitting about my face, and then I suddenly became aware of a strong bovine smell.
I was wondering what on earth this smell was when suddenly, out came this wonderful mother and daughter (I assume) pair of buffaloes. Mystery solved!
So, I asked one of the gentlemen there if they had any objection to the owner of that house keeping cattle in his basement, and subjecting them all to the continuous odor from that lovely pair. He looked at me, bemused, and said, no. Why would they object? After all, they belonged to the man who owned the house, and he could keep whatever he wanted there. So then I asked him what the owner does with the milk? Does he sell it? Nope, came the answer. His family consumes it all.
I wanted to ask him what the man does with the dung, but the thought slipped my mind, as it was then occupied with another series of thoughts.
Now this, I thought to myself, is a colony occupied by lower middle class people. Marketing people have fretted and fumed over the Bottom of the Pyramid, or the BOP. I have always been more fascinated by the Middle of The Pyramid, or MOP. Mine has been a lonely voice in many forums I have attended.
Yet, as I mused, I thought that these MOPs or lower MOPs, or LMOPS if you may, are people who have moved to Delhi from their villages in search of an upward life. They often bring the village with them, and see the world very differently from many of us. They work hard, are acquisitive, and often serve the TOPs, and observe their lifestyle. The gap between the rich (the TOPS), the lower rich (LTOPS), MOPs and BOPs, and the is increasing, and the visibility into the lifestyles of the rich and lonely is increasing. While this does increase the stresses and strains in society, it also increases the alienation between the classes.
The problem, as I see it, from a marketing perspective, is that the upper middle class and the upper echelons of the corporate marketing world, will often complain about the attitudes of the LMOPs and the BOPs, while claiming to do a lot of marketing research to understand their needs and wants, and then to create marketing programs to serve their needs.
The fundamental issue is, when you complain about the people who claim to want to market to, you create a block between yourself and your target audience. This does not make for effective marketing programs, or even a great society.
I sat there, looking at the buffaloes happily sauntering down that alley, and I thought, oh wow. You live and learn about people every day – flies, sweat, grime, buffaloes and all! You have to be open to the world that surrounds you.
This way, you become a better person and hopefully, a better professional.