The Market's Wild West

Two new technologies are now riding down Electric Avenue and shooting up conventional distribution strategies, according to Jim Lucy, Electrical Wholesaling Editor. He is talking about the LED (light-emitting diode) and solar businesses, where new-age marketers are using utterly unique go-to-market strategies that don't look anything like what electrical manufacturers have used for decades to get their products in front of end users and buying influences. At the recent annual conference of the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA), Portsmouth, N.H., more than one independent rep told him both markets are like the Wild West, with few established rules of distribution.

Full-line electrical distributors may not be top of mind for the marketing execs at manufacturers of LEDs or photovoltaic (PV) products. These execs often aren't convinced they need electrical distributors to provide that local touch, including local inventory, credit and market expertise. They are instead employing a full range of alternate channels that include but are not limited to selling direct through online storefronts, dealers with limited product offerings, reps, and even Apple Computer stores, in the case of Philips' Hue LEDs....