Value Deprivation

I have written about Value destruction and how it can be turned into a Value creating opportunity. Value destruction assumes that value was or is available to you. Elsewhere, I have written about customer frustration when customers are value starved. But a more basic issue we as humans and marketers must look at is value deprivation.

What happens when value is not available to you because of circumstances or because you have no control?

Why is this important to companies and marketers? Very often, some people are deprived of common goods available to a higher economic class of consumers. Those who are being value deprived, used mud instead of soap; charcoal instead of toothpaste; having only one change of clothes instead of a wardrobe; no recourse to quality or even minimum education; not getting two square meals a day; having to work in someone’s house and being deprived of an alternative future.

Many of these can be converted into opportunities; small bars of soap, sachet shampoo or tooth paste etc. Or products with fewer features and a lower price point. I will leave the reader to think through these.

Deprival value is based on the premise that the value of an asset is equivalent to the loss that the owner of an asset would sustain if deprived of that asset. So imagine the deprival value of a lost education.

Much of this happens because people who can do something have closed their consciousness or trained it to ignore such things. Ayn Rand in 1966 wrote in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought:

Men’s consciousness is the least known and most abused vital organ….the loss of control of one’s consciousness is the most terrifying of human experiences…and yet men abuse, starve and subvert their consciousness…She says this leads to the question, Who is to blame? All those that are afraid to speak, or who know better are willing to compromise, temporise and thus to sanction such happenings?

Examples of Value Deprivation

Value Deprivation occurs when you are clearly eligible to be selected for a national team, but because of vested interests or quotas you are not selected. Yet another example is a worthy candidate who cannot get admission to a good school because of reservations. Or worse still, rich people who ‘bought’ admissions for their kids to the detriment of deserving but less connected candidates.

An orphan, deprived of parental love is the case of value deprivation

A worker being paid less than minimum wages in cash by greedy industrialists who use their black money for this purpose and simultaneously deprive the worker of social benefits apart from paying lower wages. During demonetisation in India, these industrialists sacked the workers depriving them of jobs, the economy of growth; and then blamed their actions on the government. Had they being paying by check, this would probably not have happened.

A poor guy who is unable to get recourse to justice or bureaucrats is value deprived. Do the clerks and bureaucrats notice this?

Value deprivation occurs when you live in a village in India, and have no opportunities. You reconcile yourself to this and do not want to do something or become someone. Then we in big cities wonder why these people are that way and not ambitious.

I met a villager who wanted to get out of this, and decided to send his son to Canada. They went to touts in a bigger city, who arranged admission in unknown colleges and with large payments. This is one consequence of value deprivation: making people do things out of desperation.

The worst example is the financial community who in their greed have perpetuated great value deprivation in the guise of value creation. By making people who were marginal buy homes with cheap mortgages without worrying about the buyers viability or the mortgage viability, they first deprived such people of long term value and peace of mind, and finally caused value destruction for them and society in a big way (value was destroyed for 6 million people who lost their homes and 8 million people who lost their jobs as an aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. No financial company officer had any value deprivation from this crisis or went to jail.)

So what can we do?

The first and least is to become conscious and aware of value deprivation. Recognise it. Point this out in your circle of friends or your company.

Your innate ability may then suggest possible solutions for those you can impact, or those your circle of friends and your company can.

A focus on Value deprivation will increase value to people and society and improve the good and wellbeing of people all around.

Marketing people can look at their products that are deprived to people because of affordability, and they can come up with smaller sizes, lower featured products for such people and bring them into their fold.

This will all lead to reduction of value deprivation and increase value.


Gautam Mahajan,
President, Customer Value Foundation and Inter-Link India
Founder Editor, Journal of Creating Value
New Delhi 110065 +91 98100 60368
Twitter @ValueCreationJ Blogs:

Author of Value Creation, Total Customer Value Management, Customer Value Investment, How Creating Customer Value Makes you a Great Executive, The Value Imperative, Value Dominant Logic
Come to the ​Second​ Global Conference on Creating Value, May ​2019 ​ in New York
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