Channel Members in Marketing: Definition & Overview

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  • 0:01 What Are Marketing Channels?
  • 0:39 B2B vs. B2C Channels
  • 0:55 Business-to-Business Channels
  • 2:24 Business-to-Consumer Channels
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Johns

Ashley has taught college business courses and has a master's degree in management.

How do products get from a business to you? If you were to develop a product of your own, how would you distribute it to consumers? This lesson is designed to help you understand those options. After the lesson, you can test your knowledge with a quiz!

What are Marketing Channels?

You've always wanted to become an entrepreneur. You've come up with the idea to start a business that offers cleaning products, and it's now your passion to get your environmentally friendly products out to the world. This means determining how to market the products.

Marketing is the process of learning about and communicating with consumers. Key to the marketing process is understanding how to get the product to the right place. This involves the use of marketing channels, or the routes by which products get from the source to the end-users. Channel members are experts involved in the process of getting products or services to the end-users.

B2B vs. B2C Channels

There are two categories of channels. Business-to-business (B2B) channels involve the sale of products or services from one business to another. Business-to-consumer (B2C) channels involve the sale of products or services from businesses to consumers.

Business-to-Business Channels

When you think of business-to-business sales, you want to consider what other companies need to function. For example, your cleaning supply company has products that are useful to both businesses and consumers. This provides you with opportunities for increased sales. It is just a matter of figuring out the right channel for each product. In each channel, your cleaning supplies business is the 'producer'.

Producer-to-buyer: This channel is used for costly items that could require servicing later. Your company may offer cleaning machines that require warranty programs. In this case, your company would produce the machines and sell them directly to another company that plans to use the equipment.

Producer-to-distributor-to-buyer: For this channel, the distributor acts as the owner of the products. For example, your cleaning supplies company sells to a company that has weekly routes replenishing or distributing products at various restaurants. In the end-user's mind, the distributor is the one that created these products.

Producer-to-agent-to-buyer: This channel adds an agent to the mix, who serves as an outside source that helps with the sales and negotiation process. If your company did not have in-house marketing or sales teams, you might hire a company to take on these tasks.

Producer-to-agent-to-distributor-to-buyer: This channel is the most complex of the business-to-business channels. Your company would hire another company, or an agent, to negotiate a sale to the company with the weekly route, e.g., the distributor that replenishes the cleaning products at the various restaurants. Your business will sell directly to consumers as well, so you'll need to look over the business to consumer channels.

Business-to-Consumer Channels

Producer-to-consumer: The producer-to-consumer channel is selling directly to customers with no middle man. This used to involve a lot of leg work. In the past, businesses sold their products door-to-door or through catalogs in the mail. Technology has revolutionized this channel, and it relies mostly on online sales. Your company would use this channel by setting up a website and selling products directly to consumers.

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