What Are The Three Major Types Of Vertical Marketing Systems?

In the current intricate and fiercely competitive business environment, effective distribution and marketing strategies are crucial for the success of any company. One recent approach that has gained significant prominence is using Vertical Marketing Systems (VMS).

A Vertical Marketing System involves a cooperative arrangement among various tiers of the distribution channel to enhance efficiency, minimize expenses, and optimize overall performance.

This article will explore “What Are The Three Major Types Of Vertical Marketing Systems?” and explore their characteristics and benefits.

What Is A Vertical Marketing System?

A Vertical Marketing System (VMS) is a coordinated network of organizations and entities within a supply chain that work together to enhance the distribution and marketing of products or services.

Unlike a traditional supply chain where each entity operates independently, a VMS involves collaboration and integration among different levels of the distribution channel.

The goal is to streamline The movement of goods or services from the producer to the end consumer, making the distribution process more efficient and effective.

Types Of VMS

Types of VMS

Vertical marketing systems (VMS) are arrangements or structures within a distribution channel where members work together to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in reaching consumers.

There are several vertical marketing systems, each with its characteristics and advantages. Here are some common types:

Corporate Vertical Marketing System

A corporate vertical marketing system, also known as an administered VMS, is characterized by a single entity that owns multiple levels of the distribution channel.

This entity may encompass manufacturing, wholesaling, and retailing operations under one corporate umbrella. The manufacturer exercises direct control over distribution activities and channels its products through its owned intermediaries.

The primary objective of a corporate VMS is to streamline operations, maintain consistency in branding, and maximize efficiency.

Benefits Of Corporate Vertical Marketing System

A Corporate Vertical Marketing System (VMS) is a business arrangement where a single entity, typically a giant corporation, controls and integrates various stages of the distribution and marketing channel.

Here are five benefits of a Corporate Vertical Marketing System:

Improved Coordination: With a single entity overseeing different stages of the distribution process, there is better coordination and communication between these stages. That leads to smoother operations and reduces inefficiencies, such as stockouts or overstocking.

Cost Efficiency: A Corporate VMS can save costs through economies of scale. By consolidating various functions like production, distribution, and marketing, the organization can optimize resources, reduce duplication of efforts, and negotiate better deals with suppliers.

Consistent Brand Image: Sustaining a uniform brand identity and message is more accessible in a Corporate VMS. This consistency can help build and reinforce brand equity over time, as customers know what to expect from the brand at every touchpoint.

Control Over Distribution: The corporation in a VMS has greater control over the distribution process, Ensuring the delivery of products or services to the target market in the right way and at the right time. This control can lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Adaptability And Innovation: A Corporate VMS Can adapt more efficiently to evolving market conditions, and customer demands preferences. The organization can quickly adapt its strategies and innovate to market trends, giving it a competitive edge.

While Corporate VMS offers these advantages, it’s important to note that it may only be suitable for some industries or businesses.

The level of integration and control it entails can also pose challenges, including potential partner resistance or higher administrative costs.

Companies should carefully assess their circumstances and market conditions before choosing a Corporate VMS.

Example: Apple Inc. is a prime example of a corporate VMS. The tech giant manufactures its products, operates its retail stores, and has an online presence, giving it complete control over the distribution of its products.

Contractual Vertical Marketing System

A contractual vertical marketing system is characterized by a formal agreement among channel members, where each member retains its independence but collaborates under a contract or franchise arrangement.

This system is based on cooperation and trust and aims to align the interests and objectives of each party involved.

Critical components of a contractual VMS include franchise systems, retailer cooperatives, and strategic alliances.

Benefits Of Contractual VMS

A Contractual Vertical Marketing System (VMS) is a type of distribution channel arrangement where independent firms at different levels of the distribution channel, such as manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, collaborate through contractual agreements to achieve common marketing objectives.

Here are five benefits of using a Contractual Vertical Marketing System:

Cost Efficiency: Contractual VMS can help reduce costs through economies of scale and scope. Multiple firms can benefit from shared expenses by pooling resources like advertising and distribution.That can result in cost reductions and enhanced efficiency operations.

Improved Coordination: In a contractual VMS, firms are vested in working together to achieve common goals. That can lead to better coordination of marketing activities, ensuring that products are delivered to the right place at the right time and that marketing efforts are aligned.

Market Expansion: Contractual VMS allows firms to enter new markets or expand their reach more effectively. For example, a manufacturer can partner with regional distributors with local expertise and contacts, making it easier to tap into new markets.

Risk Sharing: By entering into contractual agreements, firms can share certain risks and responsibilities. For example, suppose a retailer and a manufacturer agree to collaborate on advertising and promotion. In that case, they share the risks and rewards associated with these activities, which can reduce the burden on either party.

Flexibility And Adaptability: Contractual VMS arrangements are often more flexible than distribution systems like corporate VMS or administered VMS. This flexibility allows firms to quickly adapt to changing market conditions and consumer preferences, making them better prepared for dynamic market environments.

A Contractual Vertical Marketing System offers several advantages: cost efficiency, improved coordination, market expansion opportunities, risk sharing, and flexibility.

These benefits can help firms work together more effectively to achieve their marketing objectives and succeed in the marketplace.

Example: The Marriott International hotel chain operates under a contractual VMS. While individual Marriott hotels are independently owned and operated, they operate under the Marriott brand and adhere to the corporation’s standards and guidelines.

Administered Vertical Marketing System

An administered vertical marketing system is characterized by a dominant channel member, typically a manufacturer or retailer, who wields significant influence over the entire channel.

Unlike a corporate VMS, there is no formal ownership structure; the dominant member leverages its market power to guide and influence other channel participants.

Benefits Of Administered VMS

An administered vertical marketing system (VMS) is a distribution channel arrangement where one member of the channel, typically a dominant manufacturer or retailer, takes on a leadership position in coordinating and overseeing the management of activities of the other channel members.

Here are five benefits of using an administered VMS:

Efficient Coordination: Administered VMS allows for efficient coordination among channel members. The dominant player can streamline the flow of goods and information, ensuring that products reach the end consumer on time. That reduces the risk of stockouts, overstocking, and other logistical issues.

Consistency In Branding And Messaging: With a dominant member overseeing the marketing efforts, there is greater control over branding and messaging. That ensures that all channel members are on the same page when promoting the product or service, leading to a consistent and cohesive brand image.

Cost Savings: Administered VMS can lead to cost savings for all channel members. Economies of scale can be realized by centralizing certain functions like advertising, promotion, and inventory management. That can result in lower costs and potentially higher profits for all involved.

Enhanced Market Coverage: The dominant member of an administered VMS often has significant market power and resources. That can translate into broader market coverage, as they can influence other channel members to expand into new markets or segments. This increased market reach can lead to higher sales and revenue.

Better Customer Service: Administered VMS can improve Facilitating customer service by ensuring the ready availability of products and that customer inquiries and issues are addressed promptly. A coordinated approach to customer service can lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

However, it’s worth noting that while administered VMS offers these benefits, it can also raise concerns about potential abuse of power by the dominant member, which could lead to anti-competitive behavior or unfair treatment of other channel members.

Careful management and oversight are essential to ensure that the system operates fairly and in the best interests of all parties involved.

Walmart is an example of an administered VMS. It has significant influence over its suppliers and can negotiate favorable terms and conditions, exerting control over its supply chain.

Advantages Of VMS

Vertical Marketing Systems (VMS) offer several advantages for businesses looking to streamline their distribution and marketing efforts.

VMS refers to a coordinated approach where Various tiers within the supply chain, including manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, work together to maximize efficiency and market their products effectively.

Here are five advantages of vertical marketing systems:

Improved Efficiency

  • VMS reduces redundancy and waste in the distribution process. Coordinating activities eliminates the need for excessive intermediaries and reduces the time and cost of moving products from manufacturers to end consumers.

Better Control

  • Companies participating in a VMS have more control over their distribution channels. That allows them to maintain consistent branding, pricing, and messaging across all levels of the supply chain, ensuring a cohesive customer experience.

Enhanced Communication

  • VMS fosters better communication and collaboration among channel members. Manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers can share information about market trends, customer preferences, and inventory levels, enabling quicker responses to changing market conditions.

Cost Savings

  • Through economies of scale and improved coordination, VMS can save costs. Bulk purchasing, reduced warehousing costs, and optimized transportation can lower operational expenses.

Competitive Advantage

  • VMS can provide a competitive advantage by allowing companies to respond more effectively to market changes. Through streamlined processes and enhanced communication, businesses can adapt to shifts in consumer demand or market conditions more quickly than competitors relying on traditional distribution systems.


Vertical marketing systems are pivotal in shaping the modern distribution landscape, allowing businesses to optimize operations, enhance customer experiences, and remain competitive.

Understanding the three major types of VMS—corporate, contractual, and administered—provides valuable insights into how companies strategically manage their distribution channels.

Ultimately, the choice of VMS type depends on a company’s specific goals, resources, and market dynamics, but each system offers unique advantages to facilitate efficient and effective distribution.

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