Marketing local products:
Short and long distribution channels
[ Summary ]
Marketing local products via short distribution channels
Placing products on the market
Placing products on the market requires the inclusion of risk-
limiting phases such as market surveys and tests, ascertaining the
value of supply from the area and professionally analysing the match
between supply and demand.
5.1 (Formal) market surveys and test marketing
A formal preliminary study prior to launching a project to sell via
short distribution channels is not always carried out because
selling in this way is easy. Very often, this stage is skipped and
the test-marketing phase is embarked upon without first carrying out
a formal study.
Test marketing is a good way to verify the feasibility of an idea in
cases where its implementation does not require major investment, at
least in the initial stages. If the test proves conclusive, the
project is pursued. For example, in cases where producers plan to
enter a new market, the most effective approach is still to test
several markets. Test marketing reveals whether the group’s products
are of interest to customers in the market, and even identifies
specific customers, if producers are able to organise themselves to
carry out the work, etc. Should the test prove negative, the
merchandise can be sold in another way.
However, whenever implementing an idea calls for major investment -
such as buying or renovating a shop -, a preliminary project study
and a formal approach are essential in order to limit the financial
It is advisable at this stage to solicit the help of a consultant
who will not only provide methodological skills, but will also take
an outsider’s, and hence more objective, view of the project.
Project promoters, who are of course highly motivated, tend to
underestimate obstacles and to overestimate their ability to
overcome them. Furthermore, with their experience of other ventures,
consultants are able to effectively guide producers through their
 The LEADER guide “Evaluating a
territory’s tourist potential” Brussels, 1997,
contains a checklist for selecting and
hiring a consultant.