Channel images do not really affect the brand images of the products they sell that much versus channel images must be consistent with the brand image.
Before taking a position on this case, let’s discuss two definitions – channel and brand image.
A channel of distribution is the combination of institutions through which a seller markets products to the user or the ultimate consumer. Brand image means the impression a customer builds about a particular product/company based on the overall personality of its offerings, built through advertising and other marketing campaigns and validated by his/her direct experience.
This means that the image of the channel through which the product is sold plays an important part in a customer’s buying experience thus influencing the product’s brand image in the minds of the customer. For this reason, while choosing a channel it is important for a company to make sure that the channel’s image is consistent with that of its brand in terms of visual elements and brand associations like speed, reliability, and quality. Additionally, consistency leads to customer reliability, trust and creates competitive advantage.
This is especially true for the product of high quality that has an upscale image. With goods seen as high-end, the channel image is specifically crucial, which means that if a high-end luxury product is sold at a channel with a tarnished image or one that contrasts with the brand image, it will diminish the value of the product in their minds, thus impacting sales.
In conclusion, I believe that in times where customers are much aware of their options and care about knowing how their products and delivered and where they are sold, it is important for a company to invest in channels that are consistent and add value to the brand image of its product. Although I do agree that this might be more true in case of certain product categories compared to others, all companies must at least choose distribution channels that provide them with the best mix of their target customers and have an image that they want to promote.
An ultimate dream and goal of any manufacturer is the reach of the product to as far as possible in the globe. The desire to reach all the possible location is expressed by most of the leading brands of products in the market. There are reputational aspects as well as profit factors to the organizations that drive the desire to reach out to all the corners of the globe.
One of the main constraint to the global reach is the distribution strategy for any organization. Although the organization is very well known to the market, if the product doesn’t reach the ultimate consumer in time, the consumer is very likely to replace the product with a competitive another product that can cover the characters of the product and produce the desired effect. Hence, an effective distribution strategy is very important. In some aspects, distribution becomes even important due to the fact that the product is a luxury and owning such a product is a desire of the consumer and can do anything to obtain the product. There are several characteristics of the product that can dictate an effective distribution strategy. If the product is a fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), having a warehouse distribution will maintain the supply of the goods effectively as they need more storage space, huge quantities to be stored, expiry of the products to be considered and an effective re-distribution can be taken in a timely manner (Dent & White, 2018). Although demand and supply influence the price of the product, it also effectively forces a defined distribution strategy in this case.
There are some products in the market that are not categorized as FMCG and are not hotcakes to be sold the moment they are available in the stores or online. These need a different distribution strategy with proper channel processing and channel image plays a vital role in getting recognition of these products. Such products need to be associated with proper distribution channels for the consumer to think them as the alternative best product also. There are some products that require an additional support system to be established like the electronic and computer products and others that require servicing and technical support. Any organization having this kind of products needs a local presence or the ability to provide services are hindered and consumer is smart to switch brand where support is good. Trust-based channels are very famous with the Japanese showing the way of distribution based on long term association and trusting each other on the channels (Czinkota/Kotabe, 2000).
Some products are elite in their category and every consumer desires to own such. These products are premium in prices and can have exclusive distribution units that are managed by the organization itself. It represents pride on the product, dedication on serving their customers and provides an exclusive channel for handling things methodically and transparency is provided to the consumer. Online distribution and nostore distribution are very effective to these products as the products are very expensive and the manufacturer can decide the capacity based on the order quantity and not worry that the consumer may switch products due to exclusivity (Dent, 2011).