Do channel images really affect the brand images of the products they sell?
Some marketers feel that the image of the particular channel in which they sell their products does not matter—all that matters is that the right customers shop there and the product is displayed in the right way. Others maintain that channel images—such as a retail store—can be critical and must be consistent with the image of the product.
The image of the channel through which a product is sold can definitely affect the image of the brand that is being sold. This is particularly true of high-quality products with an upscale image.
With products that are seen as high-end, the image of the channel is particularly important. If consumers start to see a product with such an image being sold in a place like Wal-Mart, they will start to see it as inferior. They will not equate a product that is sold in a discount store with one that is top-notch in terms of quality and image. Therefore, firms that sell high-end products need to be careful about the channels through which they sell so that they do not dilute their brand equity.
The previous answer was very accurate. Now that 3 years have passed, it is 2015, and a huge number of new developments have taken place in the world of channel retail, thanks to new Internet ventures and applications.
Thanks to social media, the Web 2.0, and the multiple devices that we can access cyberspace with, retailing is no longer channel-oriented, but MULTI channel-oriented. There are new things to concern retailers: Not so much choosing "which" channel should be used, but making sure that they infiltrate as many new internet channels as they possibly can.
At one point, the market may have reflected that some customers preferred particular channels of retail to complete purchases. Nowadays this has changed. A plethora of reality TV stars and regular celebrities have turned into online entrepreneurs, and they use their names to back up online retail sales that benefit them. Examples are Kim Kardashian, Kimora Simmons, and even the Williams sisters. While they sell their products everywhere, they also open their own particular "retail clubs" to drive their fans (and potential fans) directly to their merchandise.
This is why so many online retailers that also sell multiple brands have come to enhance their webpages and re-branded their companies with catchy names, colors, and catchphrases so that it is not just the product but ALSO the channel that makes the shopping experience complete.
A great example is the ubiquitous online shoe clubs that are so appealing to younger females. These shoe club channels, for example, ShoeMint, Shoedazzle, JustFab, and Stylemint sell shoes of different brands and at different prices. They do not offer any particular super sales but, for a fee, you can have a pair of shoes of choice every month.
If you want more than one pair of shoes, or the pair that you want is more expensive than your monthly fee, all you need to do is pay the difference. When the product gets to you, the retailer makes sure that the packaging and branding are very visible to entice other potential customers to "fall in love" with the channel.
With this new multichannel trend, retailers have gone even further in their services. They add to it loyalty points (shop more, get more), accessories to go with the shoes, identification cards, T-shirts that identify the shopper with the store's brand logo, and much more.
Essentially, the channel becomes the entire shopping experience. It is no longer a channel, but a niche. In it, shoppers who identify themselves with the niche will participate in forums, give ratings to the products, show off their loyalty points, post pictures, and create bonds that are hard to break as it happens with most subgroup and affinity niches.
Therefore, as of 2015, the multidimensional ways that people can experience online shopping has changed "channel" retailing into "niche" retail. It seems to be working, as the celebrities that back up these niches have nothing but increased their online and social media presence. There is also no doubt that these entrepreneurial risks have generated a lot of money and the proof is in that most of these niches operate without needing much advertisement.