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Understanding Distribution Strategies: Intensive, Selective, and Exclusive Distribution

11 May 2023

Selecting the most effective form of indirect distribution from: Intensive, Selective, and Exclusive Distribution


In the realm of marketing, businesses employ different distribution strategies to effectively reach target markets and deliver products or services to consumers. Three key approaches in distribution are intensive distribution, selective distribution, and exclusive distribution. In this article, we will explore and clarify the distinctions between these strategies and their impact on the marketing mix, particularly the "Place" element.

Intensive Distribution: On every street corner

Intensive distribution is a distribution strategy aimed at achieving widespread market coverage by placing products or services in as many outlets as possible. This approach involves partnering with numerous intermediaries, retailers, or distributors across various geographic locations or market segments. Intensive distribution is commonly used for fast-moving consumer goods or products with high demand and low price points, such as everyday consumables found in supermarkets or convenience stores. The objective is to maximize availability and accessibility, ensuring widespread customer reach and convenience. Read more about intensive distribution.

Selective Distribution: Using specialists in a product category

Selective distribution is a strategic approach that involves carefully selecting a limited number of intermediaries or retailers to distribute products or services. This strategy focuses on partnering with intermediaries who meet specific criteria, such as market expertise, reputation, or alignment with the brand's values and positioning. The aim is to achieve both market coverage and brand control. Selective distribution is often employed for products with moderate demand and price points, where maintaining brand image, exclusivity, and customer experience is crucial. It allows businesses to work closely with chosen partners, ensuring consistent brand representation, targeted market penetration, and enhanced customer support. Read more about selective distribution.

Exclusive Distribution: When only the best will do

Exclusive distribution is a distribution strategy that grants exclusive rights to a single intermediary or retailer within a specific geographic area or market segment. Under exclusive distribution, businesses choose a sole partner to distribute their products or services, providing them with an exclusive advantage over competitors. This strategy is commonly utilized for luxury goods, high-end products, or niche markets, where maintaining a sense of exclusivity, control, and superior customer experience is paramount. Exclusive distribution enables businesses to tightly manage the brand image, maintain scarcity and prestige, and cultivate a deep and loyal customer base. Read more about exclusive distribution.


In summary, the three distribution strategies - intensive, selective, and exclusive - differ in their approaches to market coverage, partner selection, and brand control:

  • Intensive distribution focuses on widespread market coverage through partnering with numerous intermediaries, aiming for maximum availability and convenience.
  • Selective distribution emphasizes careful selection of a limited number of intermediaries, ensuring both market coverage and brand control, particularly for products with moderate demand.
  • Exclusive distribution grants exclusive rights to a single intermediary, offering a heightened level of control, exclusivity, and customer experience, often associated with luxury goods or niche markets.

Understanding these distinctions empowers businesses to make informed decisions about the most suitable distribution strategy based on their product characteristics, target markets, and brand objectives, ultimately enhancing their overall marketing efforts and business success.

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