Addressing mass-customization trade-offs in bottom of the pyramid markets Article (Web of Science)


  • Purpose Manufacturers find bottom of the pyramid (BOP) markets challenging to serve due to low margins and highly localized needs. As such, residents in BOP markets often go without products commonly available in developed countries. Going without medical equipment may negatively affect healthcare services. This study develops a supply chain design strategy that supports the production of medical equipment by preserving variety flexibility at low volumes that stands to create new market opportunities for manufacturers and improve healthcare for residents in BOP markets. Design/methodology/approach The authors introduce a mass-customization model called options-based planning (OBP) which offers a framework to both leverage the efficiencies of high volume production models and provide products that are customized to local market needs. An empirical simulation, grounded in data collected from a large international manufacturer of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment, illustrates how an OBP production strategy will likely perform under BOP conditions and facilitate the delivery of healthcare equipment to BOP markets. Findings OBP provides a means for manufacturers to provide the customization necessary to serve fragmented BOP markets, while enabling higher production volume to make serving these markets more feasible. The empirical simulation reveals the relative benefits of OBP under conditions of forecast uncertainty, product complexity (number of design parameters) and different levels of responsiveness. Social implications Increased access to modern medical equipment should improve healthcare outcomes for consumers in BOP markets. Originality/value The MRI context in BOP markets serves to illustrate the value of the OBP model for manufacturers.


publication date

  • 2019

number of pages

  • 21

start page

  • 451

end page

  • 472


  • 49


  • 5