Crafting Marketing Strategies: Wholesale Channels
Crafting Marketing Strategies: Wholesale Channels

Crafting Marketing Strategies: Wholesale Channels

Lead Author(s): Sam Holloway, Mark Meckler

Student Price: Contact us to learn more

We start with consumer behavior and redefine wholesale marketing strategy for firms operating in a digital age.


Abstract: Strategic Marketing In Wholesale Channels

Most strategic management textbooks ignore consumer behavior in favor of firm-level strategies and corporate strategies – we think this is a huge mistake! Why would most textbooks ignore the important role of consumers in developing strategy? We feel it is because most of those textbooks are on their 10th edition and were originally written before social media infiltrated our society. Now, perhaps more than any other time in history, firms hear consumers and their voices and these consumers dictate firm behaviors. Believe it or not, back in the olden days, consumers didn’t have many choices and often had to select only from what firms deemed profitable products. Now, companies must work with consumers to market their products and services in completely new ways.

In a highly regulated industry like craft beer, the challenges are even more acute. First, most beer is sold through wholesale channels – so your primary customer is not the consumer! That’s right, the primary customer for a growing craft brewery is a wholesaler. We remind students that wholesale sales is common across many industries, including footwear and apparel (Nike, adidas, Under Armour, etc.), semiconductors (Intel), and a myriad of other industries. What makes the craft beer industry so interesting is that beer is a perishable good – not a durable good like sneakers or golf shirts. Further, craft beer is usually not pasteurized, so it is much more fragile a product than traditional beers that are pasteurized. This makes for a wonderfully challenging situation of marketing a fresh and fragile product via wholesale channels to promiscuous consumers. Our first four content pieces in Module 8 describe the wholesale landscape and how to communicate with distant consumers:

​Now that you understand the wholesale channel, how can you design strategies to communicate with consumers, even though they aren’t your primary customers? We offer two podcasts that cut right to the heart of communication in wholesale channels:

  • White Paper: What Does it Mean to Listen to Your Customers?
  • Video: Rediscovering Market Segmentation
  • White Paper & Video: Craft Beer Consumers Seek Enchantment

Now that you understand the wholesale channel, how can you design strategies to communicate with consumers, even though they aren’t your primary customers? We offer two podcasts that cut right to the heart of communication in wholesale channels:

  • Podcast: Why Research Design Matters
  • Podcast: Marketing in a 4-tiered system with CraftNation.com

Last, how can you get a distant consumer to pull down your product from a very crowded grocery store aisle? This is especially hard when consumers have so many choices of technically equal products – just try counting the number of IPA beers in your favorite grocery store! The real secret is to get past the consumer’s rational brain and get to the core of their decision-making processes, which lie in their limbic and reptilian brains. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with two videos. First, learn how biology inspires action with Simon Sinek’s “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” Last, you will explore the reptilian brain and its power over buyer behavior as Dr. Mark Meckler adapts the research of Clotaire Rapaille in our video, Understanding Culture Codes and Beer.