A vertical marketing system (VMS) is one in which the main members of a distribution channel – producer, wholesaler, and retailer – work together as a unified group in order to meet consumer needs. In conventional marketing systems, producers, wholesalers, and retailers are separate businesses that are all trying to maximize their profits. When the effort of one channel member to maximize profits comes at the expense of other members, conflict can arise that reduce profits for the entire channel. To address this problem, more and more companies are forming vertical marketing systems.

Vertical marketing systems can take several forms. In corporate VMS, one member of the distribution channels owns the other members. Although they are owned jointly, each company in the chain continues to perform a separate task. In an administered VMS, one member of the channel is large and powerful enough to coordinate the activities of the other members without an ownership stake.

Finally, a contractual VMS consists of independent firms joined together by contract for their mutual benefit. One type of contractual VMS is a retailer cooperative, in which a group of retailers buy from a jointly owned wholesaler. Another type of contractual VMS is a franchise organization, in which a producer licenses a wholesaler to distribute its products. 

The concept behind vertical marketing systems is similar to vertical integration. In vertical integration, a company expands its operations by assuming the activities of the next link in the chain of distribution. For example, an auto parts seller might practice forward integration by purchasing a retail outlet to sell his products. Similarly, the auto parts supplier might practice backward integration by purchasing a steel plant to obtain the raw materials needed to manufacture its products.

Vertical marketing should not be confused with horizontal marketing, in which members at the same level in a channel of distribution band together in strategic alliances or joint ventures to exploit a new marketing opportunity. VMS holds both advantages and disadvantages for businesses. The main advantage of VMS is that your company can control all of the elements of producing and selling a product. In this way, you are able to see the whole picture, anticipate problems, make changes as they become necessary, and thus increase your efficiency. However, being involved in all stages of distribution can make it difficult for a business owner to keep track of what is happening. In addition, the arrangement can fail if the personalities of the different areas do not fit together.

For small owners interested in forming VMS, it is recommended starting out by developing close relationships with suppliers and distributors. These are the ones to work with to form a strong relationship. Vertical marketing can give many companies a major advantage over their competitors.


  If you find this article useful, please share and subscribe to our newsletter

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

Next Post


Tue Mar 15 , 2022
PROPRIETARY INFORMATION: HOW TO PROTECT TRADE SECRETS Proprietary information, also known as trade secret, is information that a company wishes to keep confidential or protect from those outside the company. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act defines trade secrets as “information that derives independent economic value from not being generally known, […]

You May Like

Chief Editor

Johny Watshon

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur