Formulating a promotional strategy is concerned with deciding overall aims and objectives. The aims of the promotion strategy can be selected from the following:
Regarding the distribution channels, marketers need to decide whether to adopt a push strategy or a pull strategy, or rather to decide what the balance will be between the two.
Push strategies – Push strategies involve promoting the product only to the next link down the distribution channel: this means selling hard to the wholesalers, and letting the wholesalers in their turn sell hard to the retailers, who then push the product out to the consumers. This method has the advantage of being cheap and relatively straightforward, and could be justified on the grounds that each member of the distribution chain is most familiar with the ways of marketing to the next member down the chain. On the other hand, it really cannot be said to be consumer-orientated.
Pull strategies – Pull strategies involve focusing effort on the consumer, on the basis that an increase in consumer demand for the product will pull it through the distribution chain.
A push strategy emphasises personal selling and advertising aimed at the members of the distribution channel. A pull strategy is aimed at the final consumers and emphasises consumer advertising and strong merchandising. Most launch strategies would involve elements of both push and pull.
If the distribution channels are properly managed and are co-operating well, a pull strategy is indicated; in other words, greater effort can be devoted to stimulating consumer demand, since the other channel members are likely to cooperate anyway. If the channel is uncoordinated or is dominated by the wholesalers or retailers, a push strategy is more likely to work, since the channel members will need to be convinced to carry the product line. Again, there will always be elements of both push and pull in any promotional strategy, because channel members and consumers both need to move up the hierarchy of communications effects. From a tactical viewpoint, the promotional mix should be carefully monitored so as to ensure that the right things happen at the right times.
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