By Steve Rivkin
Yes, you can find new ways to distribute — providing you don’t upset existing distribution or your image.
Here are some examples:
- In 2009, a private equity firm bought the bankrupt Linens N’ Things business, and transformed it into an internet-only operation. They still offer 200,000 products for the home, but now overhead costs are lower as they compete with bricks-and-mortar players like Bed Bath & Beyond.
- Nuprin was an also-ran brand of ibuprofen until it went the private-label route. The name was sold to the CVS pharmacy chain, which is now its exclusive retailer.
- Our mothers bought their hosiery in department stores, where genteel ladies could inspect unmentionables in relative privacy. Then, Hanes found a new way to distribute – in grocery stores, of all places. L’eggs, their new pantyhose product, was delivered and stocked in much the same way that real eggs were stocked. This classic shift in distribution built L’eggs into a prominent brand.
- Tupperware was a party-only player for decades. But now that more and more households have two adults working outside the home, Tupperware has to party a little harder. Their storage containers are now available in Target stores.
- Ditto for Avon cosmetics, which is now calling on customers in department stores.
- Even the venerable Fred Rogers, creator of the kid’s TV show “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” found a new way to distribute his gentle message. He introduced an interactive program and a series of children’s stories on the PBS website. (Hey, it’s a beautiful day in the cyberhood.)
What’s the point? There can always be another way to physically distribute whatever you’re selling. Direct mail, online, kiosks in malls, kiosks in airports, door to door – think about what else it could be.