Something you all should keep in mind throughout this class is that our perceptions are extremely limited (through no fault of our own). Why should we focus on, or even consider, problems or ideas that are outside our realm of experience? It doesn't make sense from a cognitive perspective -- our brains would much rather spend that energy thinking about the Kardashians, right?
But the idea of the "bottom of the pyramid" is gaining strength in the marketing world right now.
The idea is that there are literally billions of potential consumers who are currently underserved by traditional marketing sectors. What if we could make products that help them live better lives? What if we could sell billions of products to these people every year? The margins are slim, but the aggregate sales figures would be huge.
This isn't dissimilar from the way the robber barons of the 19th century made their fortunes.
The pyramid model is conspicuously ethical, as opposed to how the industrialists operated (hence the term "robber barons"). However, whenever there's money being made, there will be people trying to exploit the weaknesses in the system. Microlending is a great example of a bottom-of-the-pyramid industry that's now experiencing growing pains.
Image source: http://images.fastcompany.com/upload/the-fortune-at-the-bottom-of-the-pyramid.jpg