NDSU NAMA team takes third by selling pumpkin seeds to boomers
DALLAS -- North Dakota State University's National Agri-Marketer's club brought home a third place finish in the national competition on April 26-28, by offering a hypothetical marketing plan for selling pumpkin seed snacks to baby boomers in the...
DALLAS - North Dakota State University's National Agri-Marketer's club brought home a third place finish in the national competition on April 26-28, by offering a hypothetical marketing plan for selling pumpkin seed snacks to baby boomers in the Northeast.
Mylie Herman, a junior economics and strategic communications major from Leeds, N.D., is vice president for the NDSU NAMA club, a class which involves about 15 students. Of those, 12 students and three advisers spent five days at the NAMA National Agri-Marketing Conference in Dallas, which is held in conjunction with the student contest. The advisers for the club are Tom Wahl, David Englund and Emily Schubert.
Twenty-nine clubs competed, mostly from land grant colleges around the country, and six made the finals. The competition is designed to compare the marketing planning for hypothetical products that would help American farm producers sell what they already produce or get into new markets. The teams start with extensive reports and boil them down to five-page executive summaries, then present them in 20-minute presentations orally to judges.
Jean Johnson of Grand Forks, N.D., is a marketing and communication consultant for AgCountry Farm Credit Services which is based in Fargo. Johnson is a liaison to the student chapter from the Northern Prairie NAMA chapter. She says it's gratifying to see the students develop their skills and confidence in presenting marketing plans.
"They have to come up with a product and dig in really deep to answer every possible question that they can imagine being asked," Johnson says, noting it's part of her job to grill the potential contestants as the judges would.
Johnson says it's also interesting that the club includes members who continue in it even if they eventually choose a major outside of agriculture.
"I think it's great that we have some non-ag members," she says. "It's another way of branching out."
NDSU's club developed a hypothetical campaign for a product called "Uncle Jack's Pumpkin Seeds," a product meant to be produced in North Dakota and Minnesota. Their plan called for focusing their marketing efforts in the Northeast states - Washington, D.C., and north.
Most of their competing teams focused marketing on so-called millennials, but the NDSU club focused on baby boomers.
"We used traditional advertising, including television," Herman says.
Why target the boomers?
"There were different trends in the age group," Herman explains. First, pumpkin seeds are a premium product and baby boomers have more disposable income than other groups. Also, they determined that pumpkin seeds have a "mood-boosting effect due to amino acids" and paired that with the fact that baby boomers "rated themselves lower on the happiness scale, which is something we wanted to increase."
Herman says the NDSU NAMA club has a strong contingency of marketing and agricultural economics majors, but also people from disparate majors. Herman says she sees the club and the competition as a "great opportunity to meet people from other schools." She said it's "helped me find out what I want to do with my life. That's pretty cool!"
This is the second year in a row the club has placed third. Herman says she hopes the group can do even better at next year's convention scheduled in Kansas City, Mo., on April 11-13, 2018.