Distribution to Your Goals
A small company must work harder at focusing limited
resources, especially with distribution and sales force options.
In some cases, the only sales force option is for the owner to
do it himself or herself, as in a small retail shop, or
Some distribution channels and sales force options may be
attractive, but off-strategy for the small company. A list of
all possible distribution channels and accompanying sales force
options should be matched against company marketing objectives.
For example, a company selling gourmet cooking equipment has
many options for distribution and sales force representation,
- company retail stores, with company sales personnel
- specialty food stores, with sales brokers
- department stores, with sales brokers
- hardware stores, with sales brokers
- specialty chains (e.g., Williams-Sonoma, Crate "
Barrel), with sales brokers
- direct mail, with company personnel
- distributors, with company sales managers, brokers,
distributor sales reps
The company's products are positioned as the highest-quality
cookware, used by celebrity chefs and guaranteed for the life of
the end user/buyer. Target end users/buyers are upscale,
well-educated, urban consumers who read upscale food magazines
(e.g., Gourmet, Food " Wine), dine out at
gourmet restaurants, drink wine, travel, drive expensive cars,
and spend heavily on luxury purchases. Ideally, the company
wants their products distributed through every upscale channel
that caters to this exclusive target group.
Because of the positioning of the gourmet cookware, the
company believed that hardware stores and direct mail were not
consistent with the image and reputation that they were trying
to establish with their positioning. Company retail stores,
while desirable, were financially risky and too expensive at the
early stage of development. Distributors were also eliminated
because of the time and knowledge required of distributor sales
personnel, coupled with the belief that distributors could not
be encouraged to learn enough or devote enough time to the
product line. In addition, the estimated 35 percent to 40
percent discount with shipping expense to distributors was
The company decided the best distribution channels were
direct sales to specialty stores and upscale department stores
such as Marshall Field's, Bloomingdale's, and Nieman-Marcus.
Their sales force consisted of three regional managers with
professional cooking experience, who also did demos in stores
with the cookware. In addition, the company had the extra margin
available to afford this highly trained and motivated sales
force since distributors were not utilized.