From the Store to the ShopperEvery business needs a means of communicating with its customers (and potential customers) to promote its products or company image. Promotional activities tend to fall into two categories: strategies that "pull" the product toward the end user by enticing the consumer to buy the product, and "push strategies" strategies that force the product through the entire product distribution channel by focusing on salespeople to sell the product.

The best known promotional pull strategy is advertising. Advertising is geared to attract a customer's attention to help win his/her loyalty. Radio, television, billboards and the printed press carry the bulk of the advertising messages. Most companies out-source (hire outside companies) to develop their advertising campaigns. Consumer sales promotions such as coupons, double coupons, free samples, contests and point-of-purchase displays are aimed at convincing a customer to "try" the product at a relatively low risk.

Push strategies include personal selling, sales incentives and sales promotions geared at members of the distribution channel to stock the product and sell it to the next "buyer".

For example, Safeway will spend an estimated $35 million on a current advertising campaign aimed at promoting the company and its products in the market place.

Although companies such as Safeway may have an overall "standardized" promotional strategy, individual retailers or stores may focus on communicating with particular consumer groups within their target area. For example, a promotional campaign might be geared at elderly customers in neighborhoods with large concentrations of older adults. Such a group of customers with specific requirements and market potential is referred to as a market "niche."