What Is Trade Marketing?

Introduction to Trade Marketing

Although sometimes confused with strategic Sales planning, Trade Marketing is actually a marketing discipline that relates to increasing demand with supply chain partners, such as distributors, wholesalers and retailers, rather than at the consumer level. It is not a replacement for Brand Marketing, but a complementary process by which you enable consumer access to your brands through distribution. In short, Trade Marketing is the process by which you ensure available supply to meet the consumer demand created by your Brand Marketing. Following is a very high level overview of the general principles and components of Trade Marketing.

Wholesale Customer Types

Supply Chain customers include both wholesale and retail entities and, generally, a two to three tier structure. Wholesale entities generally include various types of distributors, distribution centers and sub-distributors. Depending on the number of levels within the supply chain, these wholesale entities may be direct-buying (i.e. purchasing direct from the manufacturers) or indirect-buying (i.e. purchasing from other supply chain distributors). The primary advantage in dealing with wholesale partners lies in their ability to efficiently deliver a variety of products, from many manufacturers, in small quantities to many different retail outlets.

Retail Customer Types

The Retail universe is made up of a wide variety of retail outlet types and is often categorized by type of ownership into controlled, or corporately owned groups, and independently owned retailers. In some case, the controlled retail universe may represent more than one level in the supply chain with hybrid wholesale-retail entities such as chain, or controlled, distribution centers or buying groups. A good example of a large controlled retailer in this category would be Wal-Mart. With thousands of stores and dozens of distribution centers, Wal-Mart operates under disciplined corporate control and represents at least two levels of the supply chain.

Outlet or Trade Channel Types

While Trade Channels and Outlet Types are somewhat distinct in sophisticated Trade Marketing models, they are often used interchangeably in simpler models. In a simpler model, both are used to categorize supply chain entities, both wholesale and retail, into similar groups that can be engaged with common, or similarly structured, programs. A short listing of Trade Channels in a standard CPG supply chain might include the following.

  • Convenience
  • Dollar
  • Drug
  • Grocery/Supermarket
  • Hardware/Home Improvement
  • Mass Merchandiser
  • Wholesale Club
  • Other

Components of Trade Marketing

Trade Marketing components can be categorized into three distinct groups based on the type of activity performed and the type of company role that performs it. These categories may vary by company but one model that is employed throughout the world includes separation in to Strategic, Operational and Executional groups. Examples of various components of each of these groups are listed below.

Strategic Components

  • Trade Strategy
  • Customer Census & Classification
  • Trade Analytics

Operational Components

  • Trade Program Development
  • Sales & Operational Planning
  • Category Management
  • Trade Coverage Planning
  • Trade Investment Modeling

Executional Components

  • Account Management
  • Territory Management
  • Trade Approach Contacts
  • Customer Call Processes
  • Trade Events & Relations
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