Push and Pull Strategies
Push and pull strategies are promotional strategies used to get the product to its target market.
A push strategy places the product in front of the customer, via a form of advertisement, to make sure the consumer is aware of the existence of the product. This type of strategy works well for low value items and impulse buy items (Figure 1). The different ways a company can use a push strategy to increase awareness of a product include:
- At trade shows and showrooms, businesses can demonstrate the product's features to potential customers.
- Companies can encourage retailers to stock a product. Sometimes a company has to negotiate with a retailer to stock a specific item because retailers have limited store space and need to stock items they know will sell.
- Companies can create a supply chain so that retailers can obtain the product in sufficient quantities.
Push strategies work best for merchants that already have an established relationship with users. For example, cell phone providers proactively send (i.e. push) advertisements via text or MMS messages to mobile customers regarding promotions and upgrades. This permission-based marketing can be effective if personalized for the user based on personalized preferences, usage and buying behavior. However, push strategies are also effective for building demand for high-priced services (e.g., enterprise software) that are targeted to specific markets.
A pull strategy stimulates demand and motivates customers to actively seek out a specific product. It is aimed primarily at the end users. A strong and visible brand is needed to ensure the success of a pull strategy. The different ways a company can use a pull strategy to promote a brand include:
- Advertising strategies that include mass media promotion of a product
- Customer relationship management that makes existing customers aware of new products that will fill a specific need
- Sales promotions and discounts
Using these strategies will create a demand for the product. With that demand, retailers will be encouraged to seek out the product and stock it on their shelves. For instance, Apple successfully uses pull strategies to launch iPhones or iPads. Likewise, music has also fallen under pull strategies due to digitization and the emergence of social networking websites. Music platforms such as iTunes, Grooveshark and Spotify are reflective of the power shift from providers to consumers. Merchants must adapt their strategies to pull in demand, rather than push products--in this case, music--to consumers.
Most businesses will use a combination of push and pull strategies in order to successfully market a product.