In response to “Potato marketers neglect consumer diversity," the U.S. Potato Board believes this was based on a misunderstanding of the actual facts and presentation.
We’d like to recap some essential points from the presentation.
The premise is the U.S. Potato Board is marketing only to blond-haired, blue-eyed, married women with children, living in suburbia — a “modernized June Cleaver.”
But “Linda” — the name we’ve assigned to represent the potato category’s target audience — is anything but. She comes from all backgrounds, ethnicities, regions and incomes.
Linda represents younger mothers, older mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home moms and just about every other kind of mom you can imagine.
However, as diverse as she is — and make no mistake, she is diverse — we aren’t suggesting that Linda represents all possible potato purchasers. We’re suggesting she represents the largest immediate opportunity to drive long-term demand for potatoes.
This is the critical missing perspective. Every marketer (and especially those with limited resources) has to make choices.
The U.S. Potato Board has made the choice to “fish where the fish are,” which is a widely accepted practice for marketers executing on a budget.
For us, figuring out where the fish are, so to speak, was a matter of psychographics, not demographics. (Yes, Linda is 25-54 and has kids in the household. But that’s not the point.) Specifically, Linda was selected based on three things:
- Linda was selected based on attitude — the way her feelings about cooking and food positively align with the equities of potatoes.
There’s a lot to be said about this. Linda enjoys cooking. She sees it as a way to nurture her family and show her love. She cooks for her family at least five days a week and prefers to use fresh foods.
She also enjoys experimenting with food and trying new recipes. Although Linda likes to experiment, she has a relatively traditional approach to cooking. She makes a lot of the same dishes that her mother did, but she adds her own modern flair.
Her family also greatly influences the brands and products she buys. These key attitudes are what position Linda to be the biggest immediate opportunity to drive demand for potatoes.
The second and third points are shorter, but the numbers speak volumes:
- Linda was selected based on use — the fact that she currently cooks with potatoes one to three times a week, with room to grow.
- Linda was selected based on market size, which indicates she is making food decisions for one-third of the U.S. population, which accounts for 40% of all fresh potato consumption.
The U.S. Potato Board’s strategy is through targeted marketing. It allows us to focus our efforts and ensure all programs are pointing toward the biggest opportunity, both immediate and in the long-term. And it gives us greater impact.
If all of our efforts are aligned, our programs will be exponentially more effective.
Choosing what’s best to do rather than what’s simply possible to do is responsible stewardship of our industry’s resources and our organization’s budgets.
In order to reap the benefits of targeting, the organization must be committed to a target audience for an extended period of time to see the biggest return.
We are committed to Linda because Linda is committed to us. She is engaged in our category and has shown willingness to become even more engaged. And as she changes, so too will our programs, tactics and messaging change.
Millennial Linda is on her way, and we’re getting ready for her, because whomever she is today and whomever she will be tomorrow, Linda — in all her many forms — is the consumer who provides us the greatest potential to efficiently achieve the U.S. potato industry’s goals.
Kathleen Triou is vice president of domestic marketing for the Denver-based U.S. Potato Board. Mike Carter is 2013-14 co-chairman of the board’s domestic marketing committee and chief executive officer of Rosholt, Wis.-basKed Bushmans’ Inc.
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