Discounts may lure distributors to join a buying group in unstable economic times, but it's the other perks like access to a marketing department that are keeping them around.

Distributors now have the ability to work with their buying group to create product catalogs, brochures and flyers for their own company. By working with their buying group, this saves distributors the time it would take to do it themselves, or the money to hire an outside marketing firm.

Some buying groups also offer distributors extensive training resources and access to human resource management packages that can assist with the development of employee handbooks and job descriptions, background checks, drug screenings, management and employee training programs, as well as professional development opportunities. Distributors are also able to tap into a buying group's comprehensive educational platform that helps distributors with operational efficiencies in their warehouses, finance and accounting departments, as well as their sales teams, to name a few examples.

Aside from marketing allowances, buying groups also allow distributors to build their own brand identity through private-label product programs. These programs are tailored to distributors that do not have their own in-house label and offer distributors product and brand exclusivity in their geographical markets.