March 31, 2006
Volume II Issue 6
by Jack Miller
I have a twenty year old Marketing textbook that describes a Push Strategy
as “one that emphasizes personal selling, advertising and other promotional
efforts aimed at members of the channel of distribution” and a Pull Strategy
as one where “the manufacturer attempts to stimulate demand for the
product by promotional efforts aimed at the consumer or buyer at the other
end of the distribution channel.”
I think we all know that. The big brand owners – P&G, Budweiser, Coke, and
Pepsi are masters of the Pull Strategy.
But others can play that game.
In a later chapter, the book describes a strategy used by a can manufacturer
to sell more cans by providing a process to make canned vegetables look
greener and taste better, promoting to consumers and providing license and
trademark to the intermediate customers, including packers and retailers.
I’m quite familiar with this example. I was the project manager for this
program. We called it Veri-green.
At the time, we considered it to be a strategy similar to Nutrasweet. Like
Nutrasweet, products that used our process carried the Veri-green logo and
trademark. Today, you might compare it to “Intel inside.”
Are there other opportunities for a “pull strategy” outside of consumer
Of course there are.
Any business that sells though distributors needs to get its message to the
distributors’ customers. The objective is to create brand loyalty and brand
In the paper business, paper mills sell paper to merchants and converters.
Merchants sell to printers, publishers and offices, and converters sell to a
variety of customers. But who decides what brand of paper will be used?
For printing papers, is it the merchant, printer, end user or ad agency? For
office papers is it the secretary who picks up a catalog and places an order,
or is it someone else? For packaging papers, is it the converter, or a
packaging engineer at the brand company or is it the ad agency?
You know the answer: it’s all of the above.
So you develop plans to reach all of the above.
But how do you know if you’ve got the marketing mix right? Should you
spend more or less on advertising? More with printers or more with end
users? Focus all your efforts in one place, perhaps printers? Abandon the
pull and put all your focus on distributors? How about an Advisory Council or
These options are debated, perhaps without any real research, and
decisions are made, perhaps without any real facts. These are difficult,
competitive markets, and results sometimes do not meet expectations. So
the debate resumes and the strategy changes.
There is an alternative. I’ve launched advisory councils, both at the
distributor level and beyond. I’ve also done detailed research into the
process by which paper brand decisions are made, and the role and degree
of influence exerted by various members in the supply chain and the impact
of various marketing materials.
Set up an Advisory Council with your customers’ customers. Do decision
Expect surprises. Expect to find that some of the conventional wisdom is
Market-Intell can help. Call Jack Miller at 203 925 0326 or emailjack.
Coming up in future issues…
Whoever Owns the Customer Wins…
Moving up the Value Chain…
and a report from IPEX
About Jack Miller Email Jack Miller
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