PROMOTING TEXAS PECANS
BEN H. BAISDON
Director of Marketing
Texas Department of Agriculture
I AM HIGHLY IMPRESSED with the theme of this year's convention---“Marketing Texas Pecans.” Texas has done a good job of producing the best pecans in the nation, but I understand your marketing practices can surely be improved. I would not want to suggest, however, that you relax your production standards at all. In fact, production must increase in the future.
I don't know the forecast on pecans, but let's look at some other products. By 1980 beef production will go from the present 19 billion pounds to 27 billion pounds; poultry from 7.5 billion pounds to 11.5; eggs from 5 billion dozen to 6 billion; milk from 126 billion pounds to 145 billion pounds of solids; soybeans from 702 million bushels to 1,306 million bushels. What will pecan production be?
Production won't just happen. Production increases must be planned, but even more important we had better start promoting our products for the future as well as to move our present crops. Promotion just doesn't happen either.
Plans for short- and long-range research and activity must be made to encourage increased usage of pecans and enhance the image of this product.
It has been my experience in working with the commodity groups that most effective promotion is accomplished when all levels of an industry are cooperating. I was appalled at a statement made at the Dallas Pecan Marketing Order hearing a couple of weeks ago. A person representing the processing end of the industry inferred that his association was doing enough work in promoting pecans. No one has done enough until further promotion fails to accrue any benefit. I can suggest, based on interviews that I have made, that pecans can enjoy a better image and increased sales. Therefore, I believe we need more promotion on pecans.
Promotion is a big job involving advertising, merchandising, public relations, publicizing, point-of-sale aids and display. Promotion costs are high. Therefore, a sound promotion program should include an arrangement for measuring its effectiveness, even though benefits in promoting non-branded products are difficult to measure. Perhaps the best analysis made to date concerned the work of one of the largest commodity promotion organizations---the American Dairy Association. The USDA and ADA cooperated in a study and were able to put a dollar and cents value on its promotion. For a selected period of time, they found that for each $1 invested, the industry received $1.68 in return. While no other organization has placed a specific value on a promotion, most all of them hold sufficient evidence that promotion pays. Certainly it may be easier to promote a brand name, or maybe it isn't, but we all know that if we promote Texas pecans, for instance, they must have identity. I have heard Dr. Brison and others of you in this room talk about the good quality of Texas pecans and the need for a grading program so that the packages might be labeled to so reflect quality. When standards are established, we can promote our Texas pecans most effectively. Until then we probably will just be promoting pecans along with our sister organizations and creating a desire for pecans will certainly help Texas. By sister organizations I mean:
2. National Association of Growers
3. Texas Pecan Growers
4. Texas Pecan Improvement
44 PROCEEDINGS TEXAS PECAN GROWERS ASSOCIATION
Certain promotional problems are already identified with your organization and your product. One---that of quality labeling---has been mentioned. The next most serious problem is lack of necessary funds. Other problems, not necessarily in order of importance, are problems dealing with maintaining, member relations; distribution and use of point-of-sale material; other general problems of the industry; and coordinating promotions with the trade.
I would like to offer a first, positive, approach to improving the promotional program of Texas pecan growers. I would recommend that you have marketing or promotion committee do research and make up practical and realistic promotional plans on short-term and long-term basis.
The plan should include:
1. Background information---such as sales history of, the product, history of the product itself, principal competition, what is the market, what are consumer attitudes, what is the relative strength of the product in various geographical areas, what is the trend of distribution, what is the past relationship between advertising expenditures and sales, what is the past relationship of other marketing expenses to sales.
2. Marketing targets
3. Promotional objectives.
4. Promotional alternatives.
5. Promotion budget.
6. Promotion media that can best serve your needs and other promotion strategy that can be used.
If this group will diligently plan and learn something about its promotional opportunities now, whether or not it has a budget, certain positive steps can be the off-spring. Actually, what I am suggesting to you is that despite the problems before you, such as lack of funds, I feel that there are certain ingenious ways that you can proceed to at least do something toward helping in the promotional effort. After a few brainstorming sessions; this committee could make recommendations to the Association and a start toward an effective and sound promotional program could result.
Each member should learn more about promotion and marketing as a whole. With this experience, you will be better equipped to enlarge your program when finances become available in the several ways that we have talked about. Your Marketing Division of the Texas Department of Agriculture stands ready to assist you in making your promotional plans and even in executing them but we want to see you involved to the extent that you can direct us.
Now I want to tell you about the work our division is doing and planning to do in pecan promotion. During the past year we have had a promotional exhibit at four major fat stock shows and four other shows at which we passed out pecan recipes. We distributed over 20,000 folders and personally talked to about that many consumers interested in learning more about pecans and other Texas products. They were invited to write to your Association for additional recipes.
During the year to follow, the Division will have two mobile home exhibits which will be on display at every major shopping center in the State and occasionally will take a trip out-of-state. The purpose will be to promote all major products grown in Texas as well as encouraging tourism in this State. Approximately 80 percent of the shoppers are expected to participate. By passing out recipes and other publications and visiting with so many consumers, we can open an entirely new spectrum in improving the image of Texas pecans.
We are going to add a home economist to our staff who will give demonstrations in stores, at our displays at public gatherings and on TV. Most important, she will coordinate our state-wide food promotions with all home economists, including all county home demonstration agents, home economics teachers and home economists in private businesses. She will work with food editors throughout the media to encourage usage of Texas products.