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Web Exclusive | April 2018

Branding is an important marketing tool

Brand sells, and it is an important marketing tool. Bruce Atherley, Executive Director of Cotton Council International has brought his successful marketing and brand experience to the United States’ cotton sector to increase the global share of US cotton.

On April 6th, Atherley spoke in Lubbock to cotton industry people at the 61st annual meeting of Lubbock-TX based Plains Cotton Growers (PCG) Inc. The importance of effective communication and connecting the value chain was stressed by Atherley, who has worked with brands like Lucky Charm in his previous job at General Mills.

Brand mean trust, which sells products and cotton is no exception. He presented some of the successful efforts, the Cotton Council International (CCI) has been doing to enhance the presence of US cotton in the world.

US cotton industry strives to educate and engage with the world buyers about the superior attributes of US cotton. The industry has been promoting the brand COTTON USATM to differentiate its cotton.

Although, United States’ cotton occupies 40 per cent of global export trade, it is important to increase the share further. As growth is in Asia, driving growth in that region is a priority for the industry. As part of educating the customers, CCI has created “Mill Exchange Program,” where executives from mills that use US cotton interact with non-users, thereby creating new market opportunities. This project has so far involved Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, replicating this program in other parts of the world is expected to create new markets.

As part of education and communication, new ideas have to be conveyed to brands to create new products and enhance the use-value of cotton, which CCI has been doing to create new product opportunities for cotton. Enhancing trust via branding, innovation, effective communication with the entire value-chain are needed to develop markets, highlighted Bruce Atherley.

As 80 per cent of United States’ cotton is exported, developing markets overseas is needed and being a reliable supplier is important, stated Steve Verett, cotton producer and Executive Vice President of PCG.

By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA

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