Push is when you ask your retailer to sell your product.
Pull is when someone asks your retailer to sell your product.
Most marketing campaigns will use both effectively to create a demand that meets supply and availability beautifully. However, some take a different approach.
Take Nintendo and the Wii for example. For almost two years, the demand far exceeded the supply. Nintendo worked their marketing campaign and their production in such a way that it created a mass amount of pull and maintained the pull through withholding the product, creating a false demand and extending the pull effect.
Apple also tends to prescribe to this methodology. When they release a new product, the entire technology world listens. Despite the fact that they generally push the product to the shelves soon after announcement, they always have hundreds of thousands of consumers lining up to buy their newest product.
On the other hand, staples businesses such as Johnson and Johnson use both push and pull in their campaigns. You probably won’t hear about the next bar soap that’s being developed before it’s released, but you will see it on a shelf in every Wal Mart, Target, and King Soopers in your town.
Considering an appropriate amount of push and pull is important to any marketing campaign, and thinking through how much of each is necessary for your product could save you a lot of wasted money on advertisements or unneeded shelf space.