Push and Pull Marketing in Context of Online, Mobile, and Big Data Business Models

Marketing is usually taken to be the entire gamut of activities that span customer acquisition, retention, and customer prospecting. In this context, we are used to receiving marketing messages and advertisements that entice us and persuade us to buy and consume products.

This is the traditional concept of push marketing wherein marketing messages about new products and new releases often find their way into our email, snail mail, and other channels.

Indeed, traditionally, marketing has always been characterized as push marketing wherein marketers target advertisements and marketing messages at consumers based on broad and wide as well as deep and spread out parameters such as demographics, gender, income levels, geography, and some personalized preferences based on consumer profiling according to these parameters.

However, in recent years, there has been a rise in the pull marketing wherein marketers do not stop at “pushing” products to consumers and instead, “pull” the consumers to buy products and consume brands based on proactive and predictive capabilities.

How this works is that marketers begin to take a consumer database and then determine the various classifications and categorizations as described earlier and then they begin to use Big Data to predict what those consumers would buy next. In other words, when contrasted to the traditional push marketing wherein products and brands are first conceived and then consumers targeted, pull marketing differs in the sense that consumers and their future consumer behavior is predicted and sensed as well as intuited.

To give examples of push and pull marketing, consider ads for everyday products such as Toothpastes, Edible Items, and FMCG or Fast Moving Consumer Goods. In these instances, marketers prepare a list of potential consumers and then begin market research to determine the likely target market for the brands and products.

Once the target market is identified, then marketers begin to “push” the products to consumers wherein ads and marketing messages are targeted at the consumer segments based on market research. Thus, demand is sought to be generated for the supply of products and brands that are pushed to the consumers who are at the center of the marketers’ universe.

In contrast, the new age marketers go beyond pushing products and brands and instead, pull consumers into their universe wherein their future needs and preferences are estimated and evaluated and then ads and marketing messages targeted at them.

In other words, the marketing process is predictive and intuitive in nature wherein marketers have the power to anticipate shifts in consumer preferences and sense and intuit what consumers are going to do next. This differs from traditional push marketing in the sense that consumers who are again at the center of the marketers universe are pulled in an outward circle manner whereas in push marketing, products are pushed in an inward circle manner to the consumers.

Thus, there is a world of difference between push and pull marketing and the latter has taken off in a big way in recent years mainly due to the sophisticated tools and software that is available to the marketers through Big Data.

Further, with the advent of the internet and Smartphones, consumers can be pulled into the marketers’ universe more easily as these channels provide the marketers with an ability to draw the consumers rather than pushing the products alone.

Indeed, while one cannot pull consumers entirely through pamphlets, TV ads, and radio spots that are generic in nature, the internet and Smartphones allow marketers to reach consumers in a more micro and customized as well as targeted manner.

In addition, the internet and Smartphones allow marketers to combine Big Data software with the inherent technologies embedded in these media and channels and hence, gives them unprecedented power over the consumers.

Indeed, while push marketing was static and one way, pull marketing is dynamic and two way meaning that consumers can be pulled more easily since they “interact” with the marketing campaigns in a dynamic manner which would allow them to communicate and reveal their preferences to the marketers in a “real time” manner.

Thus, marketers can devise marketing campaigns that are more personalized and customized that increases the possibility of the consumers being pulled into the orbit of the brand universe.

As can be seen from the discussion so far, pull marketing is something where the consumers and their future moves are anticipated and predicted using Big Data and then leveraging online and mobile channels, they are drawn to buying products based not only on customer segmentation principles but also based on more micro and granular customer targeting methods and processes.

Though some experts characterize this as push marketing with more advanced technology being used, for the purposes of this article, it would be safe to say that the term pull marketing suits this new age selling better.

Finally, given the awesome power of Big Data and the convenience of the online and mobile channels, it would not be surprising if in the future, we find more real time updating of marketing strategies that are more dynamic and interactive. Already anyone who uses the internet to shop and Smartphones to buy products would know how customized marketing works.

Thus, with more sophisticated technologies, it might be possible to delve into the minds of the consumers and predict what they would do next which is way ahead of traditional push marketing that depends on market research conducted before the products are launched and instead, rely on market research that is dynamic and real time in nature.


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