Firms targeting high-income consumers are finding their markets becoming increasingly saturated and this has caused a shift in focus to the extensive base of low-income consumers. The opportunity and wealth that is present in the low-income segment has been iterated in numerous instances, yet the challenges to compete in this market are plentiful. To better understand the low-income market and their needs, firms need to develop strong market sensing capabilities that allow them to interpret and develop insights into this market. This report seeks to better understand the adaptive and dynamic nature of these market sensing capabilities and how firms are using these to compete in low-income markets.
A qualitative design was followed where 12 senior managers from 11 firms competing in the South African low-income market were interviewed. This was facilitated by a semi-structured in-depth interview method. An inductive and deductive analysis approach was used to interpret the findings against existing models, as well as to discover new themes emerging from the data.
The findings included three key themes: the use of mixed method market sensing practices to adapt to the market; improving the capability through continuous sensing, responding and learning; and influencing success by creating an adaptive internal environment. Based on these findings, a framework for competing in low-income markets using market sensing capabilities was constructed.