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Agrimarketing : November December 2012
"Because the traits providing Optimum AQUAmax hybrid success in water-limited environments are not GMOs," explains St. Peters, "the grain from these hybrids is not restricted for import into major overseas markets and we can sell in areas, such as Europe, where there might be some legal issues or constraints with bringing in new transgenic products." In nearly 50 countries around the world, including Australia, Japan and all of the countries in the European Union, there can be significant restrictions on the production and sale of GMOs. The biotech traits in AQUAmax hybrids have already been approved for import into these regions. Also, according to Pioneer, the native corn traits found in Optimum AQUAmax hybrids can address a broad number of growing conditions throughout the season when drought can affect the plant --- emergence, early growing, pollination time, and grain fill. Rather than offering a single trait, these products provide growers a diverse assortment of traits that help protect against the multi-faceted threat of drought. STRONG MARKETING EFFORTS Pioneer set three goals for the Optimum AQUAmax introduction: position the company as the drought technology leaders, lead and set the bar of excellence in the marketplace and increase customer penetration and retention in target market areas. The intensive marketing effort included pricing, sales strategy, demand creation customer advocacy development, brand creation and brand enhancement. "We made significant investments across the U.S.," says St. Peters. "We wanted to make sure that our sales force and customers had the awareness and information they needed to make the proper choices for their particular acreages." The overall marketing introduction used a multi-phrased, integrated approach. Product advancement research was shared with the DuPont Pioneer sales force, customers, and prospects. Extensive grower testing was conducted prior to product advancement in the marketplace. And Pioneer developed broad recommendations to growers, based on agronomic research, on the best methods to produce grain from Optimum AQUAmax hybrids. The company's sale professionals and agronomists worked with growers to position the products properly within the context of the most effective seasonal production plan. For example, seeding rates for Optimum AQUAmax hybrids can be higher than what is typically used by many growers, especially in the dryer western growing regions. Pioneer agronomists and sales professionals worked with customers in these regions to create side-by-sides, comparing standard seeding rates with higher ones. Often, growers found that yields were higher with higher seeding rates and the increased investment paid off. "We also had some fantastic communications efforts," states Janelle Buxton, Corn Marketing Communications Manager, "with several media announcements that included new product introductions via phone press conference, Commodity Classic announcement on discovery of how products work, media visits to Woodland, CA, drought research center information, plus other activities." The Pioneer communications team staged a grower panel for the ag media at the 2011 Husker Harvest Days in Nebraska. When the 2012 drought piqued business and consumer interest, Pioneer also provided communications to such media out- lets as Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Dow Jones, and Bloomberg. As for advertising, Pioneer was also aggressive with targeted communications. "We used many of the traditional ag media outlets including direct mail, print, radio, and farm shows," reports Buxton. "Premium items, such as caps and jackets, were also a real hit at events, with the most popular being the aluminum sports water bottles distributed at farm shows and on-site visits." Grower testimonials were a leading component of advertising efforts, serving as a proof point for on-farm performance. THE FUTURE FOR AQUAMAX Pioneer has realized a great amount of success with Optimum AQUAmax hybrids. Water is the most limiting factor to agricultural productivity on a global basis, with drought causes crop losses of $13 billion annually. According to Schickler, "Advancements through plant breeding have increased the durability and productivity of corn and soybeans under extreme stress. Solid product performance in 2012 underpins a strong start to the 2013 sales season and anticipated high demand for our products." "In 2012, we offered 22 unique AQUAmax hybrids," says St. Peters. "In 2013, we'll continue to expand the platform, grow and improve the technology, and expand the maturity window at both ends of the spectrum. We'll continue to work with growers to give them what they need. "I don't envision a time when all our products are all AQUAmax, though," St. Peters concludes. "We need to keep taking the 'right product --- right field' approach with our customers. By positioning products accurately, we can continue to be the leader in corn hybrids." AM 30 Agri Marketing November/December 2012 OPTIMUM AQUAMAX/continued from page 28 St. Peters Mike Gustafson is a regular contributor to Agri Marketing magazine, retired from John Deere in 2009 after a 25-year career with the company. He was President of NAMA in 2003- 2004. He can be reached at email@example.com. Gustafson
Marketing Services Guide 2013