Upstream Marketing: Understanding and Strategies to Build It

Upstream marketing is a great strategy for attracting new customers and introducing new products. Upstream marketing differs from downstream marketing in the approach and technique of setting goals.

Learning the differences helps you know which strategy is right for your company. In this article, we explain what upstream marketing is, provide a strategy and discuss the differences between upstream marketing and downstream marketing


What is upstream marketing?
Upstream marketing strategies

2.1 Trend analysis
2.2 Focus on growth
2.3 Create a timeline or timeline
2.4 Survey your customers
2.5 Think innovative ideas
2.6 Market evaluation
Differences between upstream marketing and downstream marketing

3.1 Time
3.2 Popularity
3.3 Perspective

What is upstream marketing?

Upstream marketing or upstream marketing is a type of marketing strategy that focuses on specific groups of customers and identifies their specific needs. This is a long-term approach to business that considers future results.

This takes a lot of time and patience because you don’t know your marketing results right away. This extra time gives you the opportunity to customize your business plan.

Upstream marketing thinks ahead and prepares for any problems that may occur. The main focus of upstream marketing is on innovation and inventive thinking. For example, a business might ask, “What will my customer need next?” It’s a responsible way to take care of upcoming events in your business and the lives of your customers.

The benefits of upstream marketing include being ahead of your competition, providing solutions before problems arise and giving your employees an outlet for creative brainstorming.

Upstream marketing strategy

There are many upstream marketing strategies you can employ to understand your audience. This strategy looks at your business and your customer base holistically and long term. By implementing an upstream marketing strategy by welcoming new ideas and adopting an innovative mindset.

Consider these upstream marketing strategies to grow your business and reach your customers.

Trend analysis

Analyzing trends provides great insight into future customer needs. Some trends to analyze include considering what products or services are selling, looking at your competitors, and identifying the growing popularity of certain items.

Trends are statistical and factual which makes them reliable. Apply this information in your decision-making and refer to it later in the future to see how it affects your business.

Focus on growth

Upstream marketing assumes the long-term success of your company. Focusing on growth considers what products or services can contribute to expansion.

Upstream marketing thinks ahead and predicts future needs. Focusing on growth includes growing your customer base, your company and the number of products and services you offer. For example, you may want your company to offer an upgraded version of a product overseas, thereby reaching more customers.

Create a timeline or timeline

Creating a timeline helps you plan time to reach a specific goal. The timeline includes specific dates that correlate with company goals and help create achievable action plans.

A timeline is an easy way to simplify steps while maintaining a daily structure. They chart the future in a visual way that is easy for everyone involved to understand. The timeline is also motivating because the results are recorded.

Survey your customers

Upstream marketing considers the future needs of the customer. The best way to find out what this need is is to talk directly to the source. Surveying your customers gives you a better idea of ​​what they need and gives them the opportunity to share their thoughts. Some ways to survey your customers include social media polls and in-person interviews.

Think innovative ideas

The main characteristic of upstream marketing is innovation. Innovative thinking is brainstorming in new and refreshing ways. Consider products or services that have not yet been created and customer needs that have not been met. Innovative thinking creates effective solutions through new perspectives.

For example, a company produces a phone application that tends to be a customer desire that other products have not responded to. This can be a new app on the market or an updated version of an existing app. The hallmark of upstream marketing lies in the concept of creating this new idea as a long-term goal and intention to help customers in the future.

Market evaluation

Evaluating the market, what products it has and where it is headed is very important for upward marketing planning. To strategically design future products, services and solutions, you first study the market. Some aspects to consider include the urgency of the product and what it will cost.

Most market evaluations assess potential. For example, the potential for a product to be successful or the potential for a product to continue to be sold after a long period of time.

Difference between upstream marketing and downstream marketing

There are important differences that need to be known between upstream marketing or upstream marketing and downstream marketing or downstream marketing. Knowing these differences helps you decide which approach is best for your company.

Both upstream and downstream marketing are useful and can work together; however, focusing your attention on one particular marketing plan can make achieving goals much simpler.


The first major difference between upstream and downstream marketing is the timing of their destinations. Upstream marketing focuses on creating long-term goals and considering the future of the business. On the other hand, downstream marketing looks at the current needs of the customer and sets goals that can be achieved in a short period of time.

For example, a business using upstream marketing might have an objective to identify what improvements in their services are required for future customer satisfaction.

In comparison, a business using downstream marketing may have a goal of continuing to advertise their current services using social media platforms.


Upstream and downstream marketing is often used today and by various industries. However, downstream marketing is more common because of its many traditional tactics. Downstream marketing tends to be what one refers to when thinking about marketing in a general sense.

Some examples of downstream marketing include direct selling, advertising, and direct customer consulting. Some examples of upstream marketing include planning, predicting and brainstorming.


The perspectives of downstream and upstream marketing strategies are different from each other. Downstream marketing sees the business through a step-by-step process. This view focuses on the current success of a product or service and uses the data collected to decide on a business strategy that produces quick results.

In contrast, upstream marketing or upstream marketing considers a strategy to get the business from point a to point b. As a result, the business tries to predict what point b will result in the right plan. This perspective requires an open mind because the results will not be immediately visible.

These differing perspectives determine how goals are set, the timing of these goals, and what modifications the business intends to make.

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