Designing marketplace literacy education in resource-constrained contexts: Implications for public policy and marketing

Madhubalan Viswanathan, Srinivas Sridharan, Roland Gau, Robin Ritchie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes the findings of an immersive program of field research on consumers living in poverty in South India and the lessons learned from the development and operation of educational interventions designed to enhance the marketplace literacy of these consumers. Whereas extant research and practice have traditionally addressed two key factors that facilitate market participation for the poor-market access and financial resources-the current research focuses on a third critical and complementary factor-namely, marketplace literacy. The authors contend that to sustainably benefit from enhanced market access and resources, (1) people living in subsistence conditions need to develop tactical or procedural knowledge, or concrete "know-how," regarding how to be an informed consumer or seller, and (2) this know-how must be grounded in conceptual/strategic knowledge, or "know-why" understanding, of marketplace exchanges. To that end, the educational program outlined begins by familiarizing participants with the purpose and logic of marketplaces and then transitions to the tangible aspects of how these marketplaces function. The article concludes with reflection on the implications for consumer policy, marketing research, and business practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Public Policy and Marketing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • Consumer education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Low-literate consumer behavior
  • Marketplace literacy
  • Subsistence marketplaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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