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In 2012, the opportunities to cater to hundreds of millions of low-income urban consumers will be unprecedented.

Driven by extreme urbanization on a global scale that will not slow down in 2012, expect more BOTTOM OF THE URBAN PYRAMID (BOUP) consumers than ever (the hundreds of millions of CITYSUMERS who don’t have middle-class salaries to spend) to demand innovation tailored to their unique circumstances, from health issues to lack of space to the need for durability. And remember, BOUP consumers have materialistic and aesthetic desires too.

Some examples:

  • Developed by NCR, the Pillar ATM harnesses biometric technologies, making it suitable for use by illiterate and semi-literate populations. The device features a contactless card reader, a biometric fingerprint scanner, fast cash buttons, a dispenser and a receipt printer. Users of the free-standing device can simply place their thumb on the sensor and push the color-coded button for the amount of cash they want to take out. In Q3 2011, NCR began testing five prototype Pillar ATMs in the US, with the aim of launching the device in developing markets.

  • Aakash is an Android-based, wifi-enabled tablet computer, manufactured in Hyderabad, India as a low-cost but full functioning device. It is expected to be sold for USD 60 in retail stores, and (subsidized by the Government of India) to students for around USD 35.

  • PepsiCo India is test-marketing two products: Lehar Gluco Plus, a beverage with electrolytes and glucose, and Lehar Iron Chusti, a fortified iron snack. Both are aimed at consumers at the bottom of the pyramid — in urban (and rural) areas (Source: Economic Times, June 2011).