During World War I, changes in marketing took place so rapidly that some have referred to the period as the post-war marketing revolution. Actually, most of the changes that occurred were merely continuations of those that were taking place before the war, the essential difference between the two periods being the rate of change. It was the rapid acceleration of developments in the post-war period that made them conspicuous.
As already indicated in Chapter 26, wholesalers and manufacturers, in that order, had occupied the dominant role in guiding the production and marketing of consumer goods in the American economy prior to 1919. Until early in the twentieth century the retailer was, therefore, at a disadvantage in dealing with the wholesaler or manufacturer. The importance of the retaller in guiding production and marketing increased significantly, however, after World War I. Large-scale retail organizations and groups increased in number and size, until at the close of the period they accounted for a substantial share of retail sales. In addition to greater bargaining power, large-scale retailers gained influence by introducing merchandise bearing their own brands, which tended to transfer consumer loyalty from the manufacturer to the retailer. To some degree the wholesaler also established private brands, but generally the wholesaler, being less aggressive than either the retailer or the manufacturer of consumers’ goods, declined in importance in promotional work although he continued to remain important in the physical distribution of consumers’ goods.
Manufacturers attempted in several ways to meet the new marketing conditions brought about by the growth of large-scale retailers and the generally more severe competition of the period, and they were able to retain an important place in the market during the period under consideration, even though large-scale retailers gained considerable ground. The marketing changes that occurred after World War I were brought about, in large measure, by a great increase in the intensity of competition, a more rapid rate of technological development, and greater freedom of choice, the latter the result of the changing pattern of income and the higher scale of living brought about by an increased level of general education and a world made small by new avenues of intercourse. In general, there was a continuation of the shift from a seller's to a buyer's market, already marked prior to 1914
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