Standard Article

Gray Markets

Part 6. International Marketing

  1. Kersi D. Antia

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem06034

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Antia, K. D. 2010. Gray Markets. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 6.

Author Information

  1. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Gray markets – the unauthorized distribution of genuinely branded product – are long standing phenomena that have existed simultaneously with (and frequently instead of) manufacturer-designated distribution channels. Gray marketed goods run the whole gamut, from generic cotton balls to branded pharmaceutical products and cosmetics, to heavy earth moving equipment, and have invited scorn and praise alike from different quarters. With increasing global trade and greater international market access, the incidence of gray marketing is likely to only increase. Building on prior research that documents the extent of gray marketing, investigates its causes and consequences, and outlines its appropriate management, this article emphasizes the fact that gray markets are not a single, monolithic entity. Rather, the term “gray market” subsumes an array of subtle variations on the broad theme of unauthorized distribution, with significantly different drivers, characteristics, and consequences for consumers and manufacturers alike. This article provides a brief overview of two archetypal variants of gray markets with illustrative examples. In distinguishing these two variants of gray marketing, this article provides interested readers with a greater appreciation of its nuances.


  • gray market;
  • parallel importation;
  • product diversion;
  • product scarcity;
  • product glut