Importance of New-age Distribution Channels in Marketing | GroCurv

Remember those days when many warned against a possible salesperson on the door, yet the lady in the house would let him in curiously peeking into his bag. After hours of her haggling and quality checking, he might have made a way into her heart to push a product whose manufacturer she was not familiar with. Eureka Forbes sold the earliest prototype of vacuum cleaners this way in the early 90s, across the nation!

Roll forward to a decade and half later, we heard household gossip about this new American company called Amway and how the sellers are users of the products themselves! Those were early days of experience based, network-led marketing. A plethora of other brands like Herbalife, Tupperware, Oriflame and others made their way into middle class homes through this route.

Past Y2K, we as consumers began to face this new onslaught of calls from telemarketers, trying to sell a credit card or a persona loan. This approach was quickly adapted by travel companies, real estate companies and so on… Even today, we find naïve sales boys and girls walking upto us at/ outside malls and multiplexes, railway stations and so on.

So, what are manufacturers or service providers essentially grappling with – to get access to the customer at the right place, right time and in a way that the seller’s offering meets the consumer’s purpose. The importance of distribution channels, with so many brands fighting for the consumer's wallet is higher than ever before.

Be it WhatsApp groups, social media Ads or, offline points of contact like schools, hospital and offices, brands (whether large, small or entrepreneurial) are crying out for attention. Consumers are left with the arduous task of navigating through a crowded marketplace and making prudent choices.

The question is - do consumers buy through such channels?

Our view - Yes, if the right product is present at the right location.

Therein, stems the need for innovation in channels of distribution.

Creativity is key but let’s think twice before raking up the moolah in setting up a cool campaign or a neat point of sale just about anywhere there is space. Are your consumers really attaracted to your product, no matter where you place them?

Where can you find them then? Well, there’s no one, proven formula that works for all brands but here are a few channels of distribution that may help fuel new ideas –

i) Partner with spaces/ platforms which acquire the kind of customers you are looking for. By doing so, you can find customers who already have the willingness to spend on your genre of product/service. It will also help you save the time, money and effort in customer acquisition. For example – A leading hospital chain wanted to reach out to expecting and new mothers - a strategic content marketing campaign was planned out with online parenting platforms which are building communities of the said audience. Other good examples are – Packets of Revive being sold outside FabIndia stores (the one who buys cotton clothes needs to starch them) or, a nutritional supplement/ health drink being sold outside a gym, or, books and stationery being sold/outside school premises. A completely new channel of distribution.

ii) Tie up with brands/ entrepreneurs/ start-ups which have offerings complementary to yours, or one who can fulfill an unmet marketing need for you. For example – a travel company could sell packages in the same space as leisure/travel fashion. One thinks of beach clothing and a beach holiday in the same breath, isn’t it? Or, a mobile product/service provider selling next at a photo/gift store. Think memories, think family/ friends and increased talk time! Long ago though, it was interesting to see how Eveready batteries were selling at a toy store. Battery, as a category, is quite dull and dreary, and it is hard for them to find and reach the customer. This strategy for distribution also helps in getting higher timeframes of interaction with the customer, since your partnering brand has indirectly invested in buying the customer’s mind space for your category!

iii) Offer your customers the option of becoming a sales channel. This may work well for businesses where the customer has a peculiar behavior, or location. Their vibe may help attract the tribe. An entrepreneur leveraged young mothers (who were her customers) to build her sales and customer support network, for a unique and difficult product category – cloth diapers.

With the high street real estate becoming expensive and shop shelves crowded, new brands are thinking of innovative ways to reach consumers. Innovation in distribution is a very strong differentiation. When consumers can think of your brand without the clutter of competition.

Wonder how to build such creative and multiple channels of distribution for your brand? Reach out to us at - GroCurv.

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