1) List and explain five important changes/trends affecting marketing and ultimately the strategic planning process. 2) What is meant by "The Channel of Distribution?"

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1)Strategic planning allows an organization to focus its attention appropriately, setting priorities, allocating resources and ensuring goals and objectives are set according to the company vision. Changes always affect a strategic plan making the process of regularly reviewing that plan one of the most important steps in ensuring success.  

1.1 One of the most significant changes or trends which affects the modern consumer is the environmental issue and the need for "green" products. Being able to harness the power of the environmental-savvy consumer is instrumental to strategic planning. Finding a better way to manufacture or distribute products, allows a business to reach out and extend its target market to include "green" consumers.  

1.2 The internet and social media is another modern trend which affects marketing. This not only makes consumers and markets available but also alerts businesses to consumer wants and needs. This allows for businesses to direct products more effectively and also to recognize new and potential marketing opportunities.

1.3 Technology itself and being able to keep ahead of changes and innovations is another challenge that the successful marketer must exploit. Technology has affected the way we shop for products and the way they are made and distributed. This trend follows on automatically from environmentally- friendly products (1.1) and using internet resources (1.2) in having a dynamic strategic plan. 

1.4 Consumers want instant gratification and so availability is crucial in ensuring that a business meets its goals and objectives strategically. The patient consumer is a thing of the past and if a consumer cannot ensure his product from his regular supplier, he may go elsewhere which brings the loyalty issue to the fore. Relying on loyalty is no longer a dependable marketing tool and can only be used to a point, after which, it may even threaten success.

1.5  The modern consumer has the potential to live much longer so age is another trend that is changing the nature of marketing. Meeting the demands of an ageing consumer, whilst still satisfying a traditionally younger audience is also key to managing a business and saying ahead of competitors.

2) The channel of distribution in a marketing context refers to the method by which the product reaches the consumer and the consequent "channels" created not only in sales but also concerning the product itself and service. There can be zero or multiple channels which fact is governed by the number of parties or intermediaries involved in the process of getting the product from the producer until it ultimately reaches the consumer. For example, in direct marketing there are no channels because the product goes straight to the consumer.