What is the importance of marketing intermediaries in modern marketing?
The question pertains to the importance, which is to say the role, of marketing intermediaries in modern marketing.
Marketing intermediaries fulfill an information role and a logistics role. They create value by adding efficiency to marketplaces for goods or services which are inherently “many-to-many” in nature. That is, most markets have many suppliers, and many consumers. It may be inefficient for every supplier to establish contact with and interact directly with every consumer. Likewise, it may be cumbersome for every consumer to contact every supplier directly in making and implementing a buying decision.
Let’s look first at the information role. Consumers need information about product features, cost, and availability in order to make a buying decision. Intermediaries can add value by bringing this information together from a variety of suppliers in a common format which enables quick comparison and decision-making by consumers. Suppliers need information about demand, who wants what and where, in order to plan production. Intermediaries can offer this information by virtue of their ability to view the market as a whole, that is, across demand for all similar products rather than just how much is being demanded at the moment from a particular supplier. Finally, the information role can include a trust or verification aspect. Intermediaries can have the objectivity to appraise a buyer’s ability to complete a transaction (e.g. what realtors do in “qualifying” buyers). They can provide their own ratings and evaluations of competing products, and offer advice to buyers as to which supplier’s offering will best meet their needs.
The logistics role comes in when an intermediary takes responsibility for obtaining output from a variety of suppliers and delivering it to buyers as they order. They can add efficiency by aggregating related products in one place, allowing multiple but related items to be ordered and delivered together (e.g. industrial supply warehouses). Also, they may add efficiency simply by concentrating warehouse and transport technology and capacity, allowing individual suppliers to focus on creating their products and not internally duplicating logistics functions.
Finally, it is worth noting that the ability of web-based technology to aggregate and disseminate information has dramatically changed the structure, and in some cases the very existence, of market intermediaries.