Amati and Associates

The Future of Trade Marketing

Home » Insights » Branding » The Future of Trade Marketing
The Future of Trade Marketing

What is trade marketing?

What exactly does trade marketing mean? Is it something that only large companies can afford, or is it possible for smaller businesses?

Trade marketing is a form of marketing that involves promoting a company’s products or services to potential customers and shoppers. This type of marketing is channel-dependent, and it is bound to the nuances of the channel. While some promotional efforts are similar to online and offline retailing, out-of-home trade marketing has different shapes. Trade Marketing in Travel Retail is built around the highly giftable shopping missions and the captive audience.

The most common definition of “Trade marketing is a form of B2B marketing.” We disagree. Trade marketing is not bout B2B only. It is also not about consumers; it is about buyers and facilitating the shopping process according to the specifics of the channel.

The term ‘trade marketing’ cannot be considered part of consumer marketing because it comes with many B2B specifics. In reality, trade marketing is much broader than simply targeting consumers. Trade marketing encompasses all forms of marketing aimed at businesses. To become the vodka of choice in a top bar, you need to make sure that the owner of the bar and her lead bartenders buy into – and buy the product. Their usual wholesalers and distributors need to carry the brand for that to happen. Trade marketing encompasses all the marketing activities from listing and promoting at distributors, and wholesalers, recording in the bars, and creating the proper visibility at the bar. But also training the bartenders and making sure they recommend the brand to their customers. Final touch: visibility at the point of sales is a common trade marketing objective.

C-Suites, Advisors and Founders from 50 countries follow our Substack Newsletter

Will you? Join today for free.

Visit our Substack

Trade Marketing: Who Uses It?

It’s a discipline of marketing that’s closer to sales and commercial development in terms of its focus.

Trade marketers support channel-specific marketing actions, helping sales in their commercial activity to retailers and wholesalers. They also help with promotional activities across all supply chain partners.

Trade marketing grew along with category management with the emergence of mega-retailers, which tend to be larger and more sophisticated than traditional trade (for that reason, we refer to that as modern trade). Modern supermarkets use their shelf as a scarce resource. While sales need to focus on developing the commercial relationship, trade marketers play – together with Catman experts – an essential role in ensuring the products are visible at the point of sales and gain the correct velocity in store.

Of course, there are specific nuances to the work of trade marketers in the out-of-home channel, in duty-free, traditional trade, and online. While the objectives are similar and the tools shared, the medium’s nuances often make for very different career paths.

Future of Trade Marketing: Trends


1) Eliminating Delayed Rewards

Consumers today want their demands fulfilled as soon as possible. It wasn’t too long ago that online consumers believed it was reasonable to expect to wait weeks for their purchases to arrive. A decade later, consumers are starting to expect free overnight shipping. This, combined with the fact that more consumers are shopping online, means that retailers must be ready for the unexpected.

To keep up with the growing demand for e-commerce, retailers must create processes that allow order fulfillment operations to be as agile as possible. To achieve this, you must forecast your customer’s demands by tracking their purchase cycles within your market and then stocking products accordingly.

2) Streamlining Online and Offline Experiences for HyperPersonalization

With the Blur and the rapid digitalization of experiences – led by pandemics and lockdowns – personalization is transforming from a nice-to-have accessory to an expected feature of our emerging phygital life.


If we put this trend in the perspective of the appearance of the Metaverse, it becomes clear that personalization is far away from its peak.

According to a recent study from consulting giant McKinsey, companies who get the personalization game right grow faster than their peers.

On the other end, companies who choose non-personalized interactions risk profoundly:

  • during the pandemic, 3 out of 4 shoppers adopted a new, long-lasting shopping behavior
  • more than 70% of consumers expect personalization, and 76% of those are frustrated when they don’t find it


The ones who decide to follow the path to personalization, on the other end, can enjoy its benefits. But it is also true that digital-first companies have a dual advantage when pursuing this route: they own and design customer interactions and use data as part of decision-making.

This advantage allows DTC companies to generate as much as 25% of their revenues from personalization, compared to the 5-10% of Consumer Goods and 10-20% of Brick and Mortar retailers.


According to BCG, the road to personalization goes through the 10/20/70 rule: 10% marketing, 20% tech, and 70% business transformation. The key to the latter is the development of agile culture and methodologies. Data and AI are necessary conditions but, alone, not sufficient.

3) Leverage Experiences Powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Data and analytics are critical pieces to building opportunity platforms. Opportunities stem from identifying experience roadblocks and undeclared customers’ needs. Of course, data refers to first-party (e.g., websites, CRM), second-party (e.g., channels, retailers), and third-party (e.g., social media and advertising platforms). But with a caveat. One of my professors at IESE used to warn us: “if you look at numbers long enough, numbers will confirm what you think.” In other words, firms need to approach data analysis with as little bias as possible and the right lens. In particular, if your team is only looking for commercial opportunities, they will only find commercial opportunities in the data. If your team is looking at ways to solve customers’ problems and improve customers’ experience, the numbers will enable just that.


But AI-based Automation is also vital in responding to signals in real-time by exploiting predictive models and delivering content creation personalization.

AI plays a dual role in creating more customer experiences. On one end, it makes it possible to understand customers with incredible detail. On the other end, it must also be used to plan for and execute actions in real-time. The latter is what BCG refers to as Atomic Approach to Personalization, bearing in mind that, in addition to recommendations, having an intent personalization approach to smoothen the experience.


4) The Emergence of Visual Search

As more people turn to mobile devices to access information online, visual search has become increasingly popular. It’s a way of searching through images rather than text. This type of search can be done by tapping or swiping across an idea or clicking on one.

Google Lens is a new feature that allows you to see information about products by pointing your camera at them. For example, if you tell your camera at a pair of shoes, you can get information about price, size, material, color, and more.

Pinterest has been testing out a new feature called “visual search,” which allows users to type keywords into the search bar and see relevant pins based on those terms. For example, if you ordered “pizza,” you would be able to see all the different types of pizza recipes pinned by other users. This means that you can now find specific recipes without scrolling through hundreds of results.

5) eCommerce Shopping on Social Media

Social media platforms have long played a role in search, discovery, inspiration, and reviews when shopping online and offline. These sites have millions of active users who share their experiences. But recently, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are trying to get a more direct role in the shopping process. For example, Instagram shopping has become one of the best ways to get people interested in products. Through their direct and affiliate model, they basic started competing with Amazon. The fulfillment component is with the business, but the opportunity is comprehensive.

6) Shopping Assistance via Smart Home Speakers and Chatbots

The consensus is voice shopping activities are increasing. What makes them so attractive?

There are several fundamental reasons why voice shopping could be a huge success.

  • It’s easier to talk than to type, so using voice communication is usually quicker than typing. For example, in 2017, Virgin Trains in Britain launched an Alexa skill that allows customers to book train tickets through Alexa. It reduces the average booking time from 7 minutes online to just 2 minutes via voice. The potential for saving time is always something that attracts customers.
  • Frictionless. No matter how easy you make your website or mobile app, no matter how hard you work on your conversion rates, you’re always fighting the inherent friction built into the device itself.
  • It can convert leads into sales. It’s not just access and speed driving the growth of voice-shopping. Above all else, a sound voice conversion system will convert leads into actual sales. For example, Invoked Apps’ suite of Alexa skills allows users to play ambient sounds such as white noise, urban soundscapes, thunderstorms, etc. They’re some of the most popular talents in the Skill store, attracting more than 150k users per day.

7) Channel-less Approach

More and more companies realize a powerful truth. Potential customers interact with many touchpoints along their buyer’s journey until they decide to buy a product or service. It would be wise to reach customers through various channels at every buying cycle stage (i.e., awareness, interest, consideration, purchase). Online advertising can create awareness for in-store shopping missions. Visual search can lead to either online or offline outcomes. Physical store visits are more and more often tied to online shopping transactions. This requires a thinking upgrade for companies beyond traditional and sub-channel barriers that reflect organizational boundaries and not shopping behavior.

Being ready for the Future of Trade Marketing

As dramatic shifts occur in the retail and out-of-the-home channels, traditional trade marketing approaches are being turned upside down. Suppliers and retail stores who want to serve their mutual customers better are thinking differently and evolving their trade marketing practices to reflect these new competitive realities.

To achieve successful trade marketing that capitalizes on current market dynamics means shifting from a product/conversion-focused approach to a consumer-first/experiential approach. In the on-premise examples, this translates into elevating experiential opportunities for the final customers: so the traditional product-based training of bartenders is becoming more and more a drama-intense, consumer-focused cocktail training, shifting the focus from the liquid to the engagement of customers during and after the cocktail preparation. While it sounds obvious to many, this shift is happening only now.


No Comments yet!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Download our Business Cases

Building a Communication Ecosystem

Building Brand and Markting for an AI Startup.

Download PDF
Building a new brand from scratch

Advisory Project for a Pharma StartUp.

Download PDF
Internationalizing a local Gem

Advisory for a Beverage Company.

Download PDF

Cases compilated and reviewed by Clutch