Thursday, 8 October 2009

Distribution as communication

Image courtesy of Mr Wright

JKR's ever enlightening Design Gazette has picked up on a comment by Mark Blenkinsop from Exposure talking about 'distribution as communication'. It strikes me that many of the great examples Emanuel Rosen mentioned, in yesterday's talk on generating word of mouth, were born of brands thinking in this way. Tom's Shoes' success is founded on its distribution - for every pair they sell they give a pair to a child in the developing world. Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day turns a simple trial mechanic into an event.

Brands that have their own stores obviously have a head start in using distribution as communication. Mark's Work Wearhouse in Canada has installed walk-in freezers with fans to create windchill in its stores so you can trial their clothing and see how they perform at temperatures as low as -40. This has of course created huge amounts of buzz.

Quakers Oats don't have stores, they created excitement through distribution by placing hot-porridge vending machines in, amongst other locations, the House of Commons. Pop up stores are born of the same thinking.

David Taylor has written about the way in which P&G are taking control of the distribution of Gillette razor blades by offering a postal subscription service. He points out that this is about the route to the consumer as opposed the route to market. These examples are all very different but they all show brands thinking about the role of distribution as communication.