For certain industry segments, globalisation makes a lot of sense.
If you bought a Coke in Lisbon you would expect it to taste the same as a Coke in London - although the outrageous margin placed on a sugary solution by entrepreneurial Soho newsagents does leave a bad taste in the mouth.
The same vision applies to other global brands such as McDonald's and Starbucks.
I purchase the odd McMuffin, the occasional grande latte (to go) and, in some delusional fantasy that it will offset the calories acquired at McDonald's and Starbucks, gallons of Diet Coke.
Why? Well, apart from 30 years of adverts telling me to buy the products, the brands probably represent to me - and to millions of other consumers - guarantees of quality, trust and satisfaction.
In an acute hangover situation, counterfeit cola, vending-machine coffee and a ropy sausage from an illegal street vendor cannot match the superior build quality of the tier-one brands.
However, while I will always have a need for McDonald's, Starbucks and Coca-Cola, I don't depend on them exclusively.
I actually feel rather saddened when I see that most towns and shopping centres have a homogenous look and feel, all offering a stifling lack of choice.
This is when I crave specialist suppliers, such as the sandwich shop near CRN's offices.
The owner instinctively knows my needs and whether I have been out the night before. I am always offered the solution that fits my requirements.
While further consolidation in the channel is perhaps inevitable, vendors should realise that a one-size-fits-all approach in distribution does not always work.
Customer choice is paramount and specialisation is an important differentiator. With fewer distributors, there is less credit; with less credit there is less differentiation and, ultimately, fewer VARs and less choice.
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