A marketing channel is a set of practices or activities necessary to transfer the ownership of goods, and to move goods, from the point of production to the point of consumption and, as such, which consists of all the institutions and all the marketing activities in the marketing process. A marketing channel is a useful tool for management.1
Roles of marketing channel in marketing strategies:
- Links producers to buyers.
- Performs sales, advertising and promotion.
- Influences the firm's pricing strategy.
- Affecting product strategy through branding, policies, willingness to stock.
- Customizes profits, install, maintain, offer credit, etc.
An example of this is an apple orchard: Apple orchard > Transport > Processing factory > Packaging > Final product to be sold > Apple pie eaten
An alternative term is distribution channel or 'route-to-market'. It is a 'path' or 'pipeline' through which goods and services flow in one direction (from vendor to the consumer), and the payments generated by them flow in the opposite direction (from consumer to the vendor). A marketing channel can be as short as being direct from the vendor to the consumer or may include several inter-connected (usually independent but mutually dependent) intermediaries such as wholesalers, distributors, agents, retailers. Each intermediary receives the item at one pricing point and moves it to the next higher pricing point until it reaches the final buyer.
Marketing Channels can be long term or short term.
Short term channels are influenced by market factors such as: business users, geographically concentrated, extensive technical knowledge and regular servicing required, and large orders. Short term product are influenced by factors such as: perishable, complex, and expensive. Short term producer factors include whether the manufacturer has adequate resources to perform channel functions, Broad product line, and channel control is important. Short Term competitive factors invlove: manufacturing feels satisfied with marketing intermediaries' performance in promoting products.
Long term market factors include consumers, geographically dispersed, little technical knowledge and regular servicing is not required, and small orders. Product factors for long term marketing channels are: durable, standardized, and inexpensive. Producer factors are manufacturer lacks adequate resources to perform channel functions, limited product line, and channel control not important. The competitive factors are: manufacturer feels dissatisfied with marketing intermediaries' performance in promoting products