Jul 28, 2008

Winning Upstream - Online Distribution Battles Heat Up

The go-to-market battle for new consumer technology products is as heated as ever, and we're seeing signs that a major restructuring of the retail landscape may be in motion. After years (decades?) of lackluster retailing models, retail strategy buzz is more and more about improved customer experiences. We're finding that it's increasingly old-school thinking to assume that differentiation and market share growth will accrue from myopically focusing on global supply chain efficiency and lowest price.

But influencing the consumer's total experience in favor of your company's products and solutions does not require capital intensive forward integration into end retailing, especially of the brick-and-mortar variety.

Consumer products manufacturers are finding instead that social network-intensive online environment can be leveraged as a valuable go-to-market distribution lever. Jonathan Yarmis of AMR Research writes brilliantly in his AMR Research blog ("The iPhone and the Kindle: Backing Into the Retail Store") that 'it is imperative for organizations to think about how they exploit the usage-based systems to complement, and in some instances supplement, their selling-based systems.' I highly recommend reading his description of the accelerating encroachment of hardware manufacturers and Internet retailers into the retail space.

Successful 21st Century consumer product and service marketers are changing the playing field in three important ways:
  1. Focusing go-to-market strategy on critical Service Output Demands - individual elements of end consumers' desired experiences.

  2. Restructuring marketing channel flows by leveraging online communities and applications to link target consumers with winning solutions

  3. Locking in marketplace advantage by pre-emptively building partnerships with new types of intermediaries and go-to-market partners

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