Louisiana Rice Promotion Board Uses Certified Louisiana Program to Boost Rice

By Kane Webb, USA Rice

WEST MONROE -- Analysis is in on a new effort undertaken by the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board late last year and the results are even better than expected. Last year, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) made additional promotion funds available for use in state as a part of the Certified Louisiana program.  The Louisiana Rice Promotion Board was successful in obtaining a $100,000 grant through the program and used the funds to encourage Louisianains to "Start with Rice."

With the caveat that the money had to be spent promoting Louisiana ag products in Louisiana, the Board developed an aggressive regional program that built on earlier market research conducted by USA Rice.

"The 'Start with Rice' message that had emerged after a few rounds of national USA Rice research resonated with us, and we decided to roll it out to the public and see if they agreed," explained John Owen, Rayville rice farmer and chair of the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board.  

The program consisted of 17 unique radio commercials that were broadcast across 11 radio stations almost 6,000 times; as well as two large billboards and several prominent bus benches in the Shreveport/Bossier City and Monroe markets.  The radio stations supplemented the program with digital leaderboards and banners on their websites as well.

On average, residents heard the Louisiana rice radio spots more than 18 times while the billboards were seen approximately 5.5 million times during the six-week campaign.

"Following the program we went back into the market to gauge our effectiveness on three levels," said Owen.  "We tested for ad awareness and recall; to see if the ads had an impact on people's attitude towards rice, and finally to see if it encouraged consumers to purchase more rice.  We are very pleased with the results." 

Recall was high with consumers who said they saw the ads being significantly more likely to associate rice with the positive attributes mentioned in the ads (quick preparation, versatile, nutritious, creative, empowering), and 54 percent were able to correctly identify the ad sponsor.

Owen said consumers who were aware of the ads were statistically more likely to indicate they were going to use/purchase rice three or more times in the next month.

It's not just the Louisiana Rice Promotion Board that is pleased with the results, the LDAF also took note and approved another $100,000 grant for the promotion board for this year to build on their success.

"We're excited and encouraged by the results and appreciate the support of (LDAF) Commissioner Strain and his team who are helping us 'stop at nothing' to get consumers to "start with rice,'" Owen said.