May 2, 2005, 12:00 AM

Squeeze Play

(Page 3 of 3) also is boosting activity that facilitates offline shopping. It will shortly launch an events section that tells site visitors where and when to find brand events in local stores. After gathering more geographic data on customers, Korch hopes to start pushing out information about the local events proactively via e-mail. "We`re trying things like that to show stores that we are supporting our offline business and that we want to be an information source in addition to getting our own online sales," she says.

At the same time, Korch appreciates retailers` desire to retain sales from customers in the store. That`s why retailers will shortly be given a log-on for a dedicated area of that will allow them to conduct activity on the site on behalf of store customers, at the point of purchase. Korch is also careful not to undercut retailers` prices or promotional efforts. "We always sell at full price, and we limit our special offers to free shipping, gift-wrapping and the like," she says.

Korch`s vision for the future is not just more sales on or more sales of the brand at retailers, but both. "Our main focus this year is segmenting the consumer base, understanding who they are and what channels they want to buy in, and then supporting them in that effort with whatever tools they need, whether that`s online or in the stores," she says.

No single answer

Today, manufacturers and retailers are finding that there is not one single answer or strategy that will drive major growth. "I can`t think of a single manufacturer that doesn`t hold its channel partner relationships absolutely sacred," Hess says. "That hasn`t changed. But the amount of power that consumers now have in the current multi-channel climate has changed the rules of the game."

So increasingly, both brand manufacturers and retailers are turning to strategies that segment the marketplace and differentiate marketing and sales tactics in a way that, collectively, will deliver the volume of growth they seek. "The objective for them is to identify the consumers and types of purchases where they can best meet the need," Hess says. "Market channel and consumer segmentation are clearly the order of the day."




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