Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2003 (Revised April 2006)

Reaching the Bottom: UniGlobe's Small Local Stores Dilemma

by Clayton M. Christensen and Lana Newishy

Abstract

To distribute products to very small retailers in a very fragmented retail environment, the local subsidiary of a large consumer products company created an innovative distribution mechanism. The subsidiary's Small Local Stores division employed middlemen who distributed vans full of consumer products throughout the Philippines. The channel was growing rapidly, but it was the company's least profitable. Now the subsidiary had to decide what to do. Should it try to squeeze more margins out of the channel, even if that would lower the middlemen's incentives? Should it scrap the channel altogether? Or should it try to build an internal capability to reach the smallest stores, even if it involved significant capital expenditures? Regional management was due to arrive and the company had to come up with a plan.

Keywords: Distribution Channels; Innovation and Invention; Consumer Products Industry; Philippines;

Citation:

Christensen, Clayton M., and Lana Newishy. "Reaching the Bottom: UniGlobe's Small Local Stores Dilemma." Harvard Business School Case 603-114, February 2003. (Revised April 2006.)