The Power of the Distribution Channel

Most people, when they think about marketing, think about advertising. When I entered business school I thought the two words were interchangeable. That is why it seemed strange to me when I had a marketing class and we didn't even talk about advertising. The professor's field of specialty was distribution channels, and he actually knew very little about advertising.

This memory was sparked by Dasani water. I like Dasani better than any other water. Some say water is just water, but sometimes I feel… I don't know, different, after I drink other waters. After drinking Dasani though, I feel fine. I can't really explain it. So I'm drinking this Dasani right now and it reminded me of my previous business ignorance with respect to marketing and distribution channels in particular. I think it was 1998 and I was in b-school and I read in the WSJ that Coke wanted to get into the bottled water game. Being the young genius, or at least thinking I was, I laughed at them and told several of my classmates how stupid that was. There were already several major bottled water players, and Coke had no competitive advantage because water is just water. You have to compete on price. I was stupid. Coke's distribution channels were a HUGE advantage. Along with their hefty marketing budget and more than a century of experience selling beverages. It makes me wonder what I'll think of these posts in 20 years. I wonder how much more I'll know and how stupid some of my current ideas will seem (maybe I'll be forced by then to concede on neuromarketing!). But that is the fun of life. The world is a fascinating place, particularly the business world. There is so much to learn that I am just trying to sit back and enjoy the path I am taking.

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