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balasubramanian_5x7Sridhar Balasubramanian, marketing professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and Academic Leadership Program Fellow (2015), is featured in the Fall 2015 issue of the school’s R.O.I. magazine.

Balasubramanian, together with Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship Lisa Jones Christensen, “compared the effectiveness of philanthropic and for-profit business models serving some of the poorest consumers in the world in a longitudinal field study with Enno Siemsen, a professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota,” according to the article. They partnered with Proctor & Gamble to analyze differences in the uptake and usage of PUR water purification packets offered at different prices — moderate discount, deep discount and free — in three geographically separated but otherwise similar communities in Malawi in southeastern Africa.

Malawis gather water for purification.
Malawis gather water for purification. (Procter & Gamble)

Their findings resulted in the published article “Consumer behavior change at the base of the pyramid: Bridging the gap between for-profit and social responsibility strategies.” They found that “for-profit business models can be used to help the income-poor in developing countries, and that free giveaways are not always the best strategy,” according to R.O.I.R.O.I. focuses on insights and best practices from Kenan-Flagler faculty research so business people can apply them to current challenges.

The study has practical implications for businesses of all sizes, says Balasubramanian, who is also associate dean of the full-time MBA and online MBA@UNC Programs. “It yields deep insights into how multinational organizations and local companies can penetrate base-of-the-pyramid markets and strike the right balance between philanthropic and pure for-profit strategies,” he tells R.O.I.

Read the entire article in the R.O.I. digital magazine.


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