Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to discuss innovative consumer marketing approaches for simultaneous business success and social empowerment at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) or in subsistence marketplaces. Design/methodology/approach - The paper draws from a research program comprising qualitative methods as well as case study analyses. The central aspect of the approach to this topic is that it is a bottom-up perspective grounded in understanding consumers. The theoretical scope of the paper includes consumption, entrepreneurship, and social capital in impoverished environments. Findings - The authors key finding is that businesses must follow three principles for consumer marketing a?? deep understanding of subsistence consumer psychology, social embeddedness, and entrepreneurial empowerment. Research limitations/implications - This research has implications for theoretical and empirical advancement in the areas of structuring marketing activities, social embeddedness of marketing, and consumer policy. Practical implications - This research has implications for several aspects of consumer marketing strategy. The authors categorize these under the following: marketplace research, marketplace solutions, value propositions, communications, partnerships, harnessing social capital, designing marketing structure, and evolving the marketing mindset. Originality/value - This paper suggests that consumption and entrepreneurial productivity are inextricably linked in subsistence contexts with important implications for consumer marketing. The paper has value to BOP researchers and BOP business practitioners wishing to take a nuanced view to understand their markets and serve them better.