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Agrimarketing : May 2008 Supplement
4 AgriMarketing ¦ May 2008 2008 NAMA MARKETER OF THE YEAR M onsanto veteran Dave Rhylander was named the National Agri-Marketing Association’s (NAMA) 2008 Marketer of the Year. Rightfully so. Given the opportunity to assist in introducing the spanking new trait biotechnology to the agricultural market place, Rhylander and his group have delivered nearly miracu- lous results. He began his career with Mon- santo in 1977 when the company was introducing the new Roundup herbi- cide. A pretty good place to start. Through the years he has taken on varying responsibilities before being named in 2003 to Head of U.S. Traits, for which he has earned his NAMA award (see sidebar “Dave Rhylander’s Career Path”). As a result of Rhylander and his team’s efforts: in the U.S., Monsanto traits are now being used on more than 90% of the soybean acres, about 80% of the corn acres and 77% of the cotton acres since the launch of its first two biotech products in 1996: Roundup Ready soybeans and Bollgard insect-protected cotton. While other companies are in the traits business, industry experts esti- mate that Monsanto currently has a 90% market share. Those experts cite Monsanto’s early entry into the mar- ket, its complete portfolio of traits plus its successful sales/marketing strategies and execution. Specifically, here are the products and their successes under Rhylander’s tutelage in the U.S.: • YieldGard Rootworm: the number one technology used by farmers for control of the corn rootworm pest. YieldGard Rootworm increased from 4.4 million acres in 2005 and is expected to be on over 35 million acres in 2008. • Roundup Ready Corn 2 System: in 2008, Roundup Ready Corn 2 technology is expected to be planted on approximately 70 mil- lion acres, representing eight out of ten corn acres. • Roundup Ready Flex Cotton: launched in 2006, it is expected to be planted on approximately five million acres in 2008, representing about 53% of the anticipated cotton acres, making it the most success- ful new biotech product launch in Monsanto’s history. IT TAKES A TEAM Getting new technology introduced into the ag market, which is already brimming with products, where customer loyalty is intense and the distribution system is fiercely competi- tive, is no small task. “In Roundup Ready’s case,” Rhylander explains, “we had to educate every- body that it was OK to spray a product on their crops that, for years, had strict applica- tion guidelines, since its strength was that it elimi- nated any vegetation it touched and that it had superior crop safety,” Rhy- lander says. “In the case of YieldGard insect technolo- gies, we had to convince the market it was OK for the bugs to live and to take a bite from plants for the trait to be effective.” Obviously the Monsanto team succeeded. Marketing, sales, product development, product sup- port, regulatory, research, HR, management, and other departments all had critically important roles. But, as the name of the NAMA award implies, this story is about excellence in marketing, so the rest of the article will focus on that aspect. “From the start,” Rhylander explains, “we knew we had to show true value of the new technology to the customers. That value included replacing current costs, the opera- tional efficiency gained on the farm plus demonstrating yield benefits that the technology provided.” Known throughout the company and the industry for his creativeness, ingenuity and drive, Rhylander formed his team and set off on their quest. Following are just a few of the projects he has instigated and imple- mented to the company’s benefit. TRAIT PRICING APPROACH “We knew our traits delivered differ- ent values to different parts of the country depending on the pest pres- sure,” Rhylander reports. “For exam- ple, the presence and damage from rootworms is much more intense in the western Corn Belt than it is in, say, Ohio where growers historically did not make pesticide applications for rootworm due to the cost versus the benefit they received. “However, because we knew traits would be of value to a cus- tomer with even low levels of infes- tation,” he explains, “we preferred to offer them a Triple Stack INNOVATION IN MARKETING SUCCESS by Lynn Henderson, Editorial Director Rhylander and the plaque he received commemorating his being named 2008 NAMA Marketer of the Year.