Horizontal Marketing Systems

Another channel development is the horizontal marketing system, in which two or more unrelated companies put together resources or programs to exploit an emerging marketing opportunity. Each company lacks the capital, know-how, production, or marketing resources to venture alone, or it is afraid of the risk. The companies might work with each other on a temporary or permanent basis or create a joint venture company. Adler calls this symbiotic marketing.

Consider the long-standing agreement between Sara Lee Intimates and Wal-Mart, which has enabled the partners to grow their business from an initial $134 million account to a $1 billion partnership over 10 years. Both firms have merchandise, operations, MIS, and marketing managers devoted solely to this agreement. They meet regularly to iron out problems and make plans, requiring the sharing of marketing information, inventory levels, sales history, price changes, and other proprietary information.17

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