A few days back, I saw a half page advertisement in a leading national daily which said that anyone can exchange their old Good Knight machines for new ones at a nominal cost. However, when I called and checked with a few neighbourhood stores, they were not even aware of this scheme. I have had the same experience a couple of times with different brands and categories.
Cosmetics is also one such industry where this phenomenon is quite prevalent. Shades and colours that may have been shown in print or television advertisements are not available across counters when one goes to make a purchase. I saw an advertisement for a Doraemon foil for kids and thought of buying it for my niece and nephew, but when I went and asked for it at the store, besides them saying they didn’t have it, they were laughing over the idea of a cartoon on a foil paper.
The hype that they create with these marketing strategies fizzes out when the complementing product is not available in the market. It struck me that there is a huge gap between marketing the products and the process of their production and distribution. The co-ordination between different departments within an organisation is loose ended. Survey at the ground level before launching a campaign is a must. There are numerous reasons that can be the cause of such a situation wherein the product is being marketed but is not reaching the customer. These gaps can be at various levels.
Production issues can be the first speed breaker to this situation. Meeting the demand is what should be strived for but when the supply is not enough, the next step also falls low. Lesser produce will also be constrained for distribution. If you are marketing a product, you should be able to have a production capacity that would facilitate the sale of the product. Once there was an offer where a friend of mine had won Reebok shoes but every time she would go to the store, they would either not have the size or the colour she wanted. So if a brand is offering a scheme, they should be sure of producing enough to suffice the buyers demand.
If a product is produced in ample but is still not being made available to the end consumer, it can be attributed to the lack in distribution. Loss of products, moving up in the supply chain is also a phenomenon which is possible. Employees can be involved in the slipping out of products without being noticed. Also the product may reach a wholesaler but is not distributed properly amongst the retailer. Not only do products have to move along the supply chain, information on offers and schemes also need to reach the retailer. Information which is sent out should also be clear so as to avoid confusion when dealing with a customer. This is an imperative task as awareness needs to be created along all the levels in the supply chain.
Though India is a vast country and if we talk of reaching every nook and corner, it is a big challenge, but brands need to put in that extra effort to build up a distribution network to ensure maximum benefit.
If this happened repeatedly, the brands image would also be blemished as people will begin to lose trust in the brand. A recurring bad experience will lead to a shift in brand loyalty by the customer who will take to other products even if that would cost an inch more.
Monitoring at all levels is imperative so ensure that both ends i.e. marketing and distribution meet. If this doesn’t happen then the marketing spends also go in vain as the brand will not be able to cash in on the opportunity they devised out of the scheme.
In the Scheme by Good Knight, I could exchange an old machine for a new one. The process by which the retailer will send back the old machines they get to the manufacturer is termed as Reverse logistics. Reverse logistics are also equally important so the manufacturer and brands know what is actually happening at the ground level. This will help the brand work at different levels to fill in the gaps. This can come into play where the products do not reach at all and the retailers take up the initiative to become saviors of the brand.