What is Sales Promotion

What is Sales Promotion

Sales Promotion is a promotional marketing technique designed to create sales for a product over a defined period of time. Sales promotion activities are measurable in terms of products moved, coupons redeemed, number of contest entries, or other quantifiable counts.

Sales Promotion Planning

Sales Promotion includes short-term cents-off coupon and discount activities, contests and sweepstakes, promotional logoed products, product sampling, and in-store promotional collateral materials.   All sales promotion activities are designed to generate sales over a defined time.

Sales Promotions are most often directed at consumers.  Sales Promotions are also developed for the trade industry or for internal sales staffs.   Manufacturers will create sales promotions for the trade industry such as its distributor network for the same strategic reasons as for consumers, which is to generate short-term sales.

Coupons and Price Discounts

Price Discounts and Cents-Off coupons are primary tactics used for sales promotion.  Price discounts may be promoted in printed circulars distributed in store or mailed as well as weekly price specials deals displayed on a shelf. Price discounts may also be provided in rebates. Coupons have a defined dollar value and expiration date and are distributed in newspapers, magazines, and online.

Contests and Sweepstakes

Manufacturers like contests and sweepstakes as they can create excitement and interest in a product as consumers vie to win the prize.  Contests and sweepstakes rules follow strict legal regulations for who can participate and the odds of winning.  Some states have regulations that prevent residents from participating in a promoted contest or sweepstakes.  Another legal regulation is not requiring a purchase of the product to enter and that alternative methods of entry such as mailing in a form as opposed to completing it online are provided.

Promotion Products

There are a plethora of logoed promotional products distributed by both large and small companies.  Promotional products can include logoed T-shirts, cups, pens, notebooks, water bottles and anything else used to keep the product or company name in front of important audiences such as the Trade.


A new trial and new customers can be generated through product sampling.  A lot of food sampling takes place in store now but some trial size products are still sampled through the mail.  Increasingly samples are sent in response to consumer requests for a sample which is more efficient but might miss those consumers who unsolicited experience a product and purchase a full-size version as a result.

Sales Promotion Planning

Sales Promotion activities are planned on an annual basis as part of a company’s marketing plans for products for which sales promotion is important.   The activities of Sales Promotion must be measurable and hence have defined start and end dates.  This is what distinguishes sales promotion from other activities employed in the marketing mix.