The fourth part of the Market Feasibility and Viability Section asks about distribution channels and buying patterns and methods. The questions are short, but answering them can be a little tricky.
The requirement might be restated as, "What do you need to know in order to design your Distribution Channel(s)?" At this stage, you're concerned only with figuring out what needs to be in your distribution channel. Later in your Final Plan, you'll describe the methods that your distribution channel will use.
Solving the problem starts with learning how your target market (1) decides whether to buy your product, (2) purchases and takes delivery of the product and (3) uses the product.
It boils down to developing a communications plan: What will you do to "communicate" with your customers about these things? Remember that the operational details of your Distribution Channel come later; the focus now is on what your Distribution Channel needs to do.
Remember also that Distribution Channels are two-way processes. Don't just consider the information or things you'll be telling or sending to your customers; make sure your strategy includes what you'll do with what you "hear" from your customers.
Focus on every aspect of the relationship between you, your product and your customer. And always look at it from the customer's point-of-view by asking, "What must be done to determine and deliver the bargained-for value?"
The marketing function's core task is (1) to persuade a potential customer to switch away from using a competitor's product, (2) to start using instead your product and (3) continue using your product on the basis of loyalty. How could you make that happen? What "tools" are you going to use to do that?
You might start with thinking about the information your customers want to know when they're deciding whether to buy your product. What are the three or four most important things they'll want to know? Price will probably be on the list, but will it be at the top? What about things like durability and quality? Would something like "prestige" be there? Could the list include service or repairs or warranty?
Next, analyze how your customers obtain information about your product. Do they see, hear or read about it in media advertising? What kind of media? Do they ask their friends and neighbors? What do they ask? Do they do Google searches?
After you've identified what your customers "want-to-know" and how they usually get the information they want, think about what your "pitch" is going to be and how you're going to deliver it to them. What are you going to say? What "matters" to your customers? Do they "rank" or "compare" things as part of their buy/don't-buy decision-making process? What's important to them and how are you appealing to their preferences?
Another perspective might be zeroing in on the "process" used to purchase a product. What things go into that process? When does it start and when does it end? What "things" are your competitors doing? What are the "things" you might do or could do? How will you communicate that you might do things faster, better or cheaper?
Once you've answered all these "head-scratchers," there's one more hurdle to get over. Step back, look at your strategy and ask whether your strategy will earn your customer's loyalty. Remember only part of your task is "obtaining" a competitive advantage; the really hard part is "sustaining" that competitive advantage.
After the dust settles, the last thing you want to hear from your potential customer is, "That's nice but I'm sticking with what I've already got." Or worse yet, "Thank you for the opportunity to try your new product, but I'm going back to what I've been buying before." Those are "loyalty challenges." They're the "core strategic problem" you've got to solve. They're also part of that "so what" dilemma.
Keep up the good work. Isn't this more fun than solving chemistry problems?