What Is a Mass-Market Retailer

A mass-market retailer, or mass merchandiser, is a company that affordably sells large quantities of goods that appeal to a wide variety of consumers. Mass-market retailers are not necessarily known for selling durable, high-quality merchandise or for having exceptional customer service, but they do meet consumers' wants and needs at reasonable prices.

Examples of mass-market retailers include big-box stores such as Target, Sam's Club, and Best Buy, as well as brands like Levi Strauss and Gap, and e-retailers like Amazon. Supermarket, drugstore, mass merchandise, and warehouse chains are all considered mass-market retailers.

Key Takeaways

  • Mass-market retailers sell large quantities of a wide variety of consumer goods.
  • The products are generally cheap and offered at a discount, due to the retailer's bulk purchasing power.
  • Examples of mass-market retailers include Target, Walmart, and Best Buy.

Understanding Mass-Market Retailer

In contrast to mass merchandisers, luxury retailers sell products targeted at wealthy consumers who purchase upscale items. These products tend to be out of reach, financially, for the average consumer, although aspirational consumers may purchase them anyway, and are associated with higher quality and superior customer service. Examples of luxury retailers include Bergdorf Goodman, Barney's, Tiffany, and Saks.

Sales of merchandise through mass-market retailers represent a substantial portion of the revenue generated from consumer goods and grocery purchases in the United States. In other countries, there may be a preference for smaller retailers who serve communities and local regions. However as more cities worldwide become more densely populated, mass-market retailers may seize the opportunity to establish themselves in such markets.

The Depth and Reach of Mass-Market Retailers

Though local merchants in the United States represent a staple part of the economy, mass-market retail chains have established themselves as the predominant sellers of consumer goods in the country. The concentration of a wide variety of goods at discount prices in one location provides convenience for consumers who want to combine different types of purchases into one trip to a store.

Mass-market retailers are often able to sell products at lower prices than individual, private retailers because of their bulk buying power. This stems from the volume of goods that mass-market chains move through their channels compared with privately-owned retailers that may only have one location. Furthermore, the size of each mass-market retail store can be significantly larger and sell more volume than a privately owned store.

The product mix is one way for mass-market retailers to be competitive with each other. There may be specific brand items that a mass-market retailer sells that are not available through rival stores.

The dynamics of mass-market retail have evolved with online commerce. Big box retailers continue to dominate in the overall mass-market retail space; however, the growth and reach of Amazon, in particular, has compelled brick-and-mortar retail companies to become more competitive online, as well.