Smart brands are working with (and through) dealers and distributors to get closer to their consumers.
Many manufacturers in the high-end home category utilize a two-step distribution channel and rely heavily on their distributors and dealers to help achieve their corporate goals.
I’ve seen two-step distribution work well, and I’ve seen train wrecks. There can be a natural tension in the relationship, of course, because the manufacturer, distributor and dealer each have their own set of motives. The trick is for each partner to operate with a clear set of roles and responsibilities – and for each to perform at, or ahead of, the goal. When that happens, the consumer is happy and everyone makes money.
More often than not, though, there are challenges throughout the channel, which not only affect the consumer’s experience, but which can significantly affect profits. What can marketers at the manufacturing level do to get closer to their end consumer? The short answer: you must work with and through your partners.
Here are five things manufacturers can do to succeed:
- Know thy Consumer. If you don’t have data on your consumer, you are flying blind. Invest in research to determine who your customers are (database analysis, quantitative and qualitative research) and get to know their psychographics, not just their demographics.
- Walk the Tightrope. Marketers are increasingly balancing the need to create interest with a strong brand story, while also harvesting intent with solid lead generation techniques.
- Capture Sales Data. Smart manufacturers are devising ways to capture data that they did not previously have. For instance, one high-end home brand offered a post-purchase gift, but the dealer had to share the consumer data in order for the manufacturer to ship it.
- Word of Mouth Still Rules. How can you enable your end consumer to share her purchase with the world? Many manufacturers have leveraged social media to allow consumers to brag about their purchase and support the brand.
- Follow-Up After the Sale. What ways can you touch your end consumer after the sale, not necessarily with another sales message, but with a thoughtful communication that will endear her to your brand?
Two-step distribution doesn’t have to be onerous – and high-end home brands don’t necessarily have to cede control of their consumer relationship to dealers.
It’s not only possible for you to get closer to your consumer, I’d say it’s imperative.