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PROMOTIONS YIELD BOOST FOR U.S. COTTON OVERSEAS.

MEMPHIS-With U.S. cotton under pressure from foreign growers, marketing's been the game plan for Cotton Council International (CCI), which has been aggressively promoting its Cotton USA brand mark through a variety of programs in key consumer markets abroad, including licensing the use of the brand mark to manufacturers.

CCI, the international division of the National Cotton Council of America, works to increase exports of U.S. cotton, cottonseed and U.S.-manufactured cotton products.

The latest signs that U.S. cotton is making inroads in other countries were the results of an independent survey conducted in 1998 by Asia Market Intelligence, which found that 84 percent -- or four out of five -- Korean women surveyed had a strong awareness of CCI's Cotton USA mark and a preference for mark-labeled products that contain a majority of U.S.-grown cotton.

The survey of 500 women was part of the Cotton USA program funded by a partnership of CCI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the auspices of the Market Access Program, with other funds from the U.S. cotton industry and its foreign partners.

Products labeled with the Cotton USA mark must be made of 100 percent cotton; at least 50 percent of the cotton should be U.S. fiber.

The increased recognition of the mark is noteworthy compared with previous years. In 1997, 79 percent of consumers surveyed said they were aware of the mark, and slightly less, 74 percent, in 1996. The 1998 figure is double the 42 percent recognition of 1989, when the Korean program began.

Increasing awareness and the number of units of products labeled with the Cotton USA mark, "continue to be an important measure of the Council's efforts to pull U.S. raw cotton fiber through the complex value chain. Independent research clearly shows that `aware' consumers purchase more cotton products and more specifically . . . prefer to purchase products labeled with the Cotton USA mark," and in the process, increase exports of U.S. raw cotton fiber and manufactured products, said CCI.

Another successful element of the program included CCI's first bed-linen promotion for the Korean market. The promotion, held during November 1997 in more than 820 sales outlets throughout South Korea, featured U.S. cotton-rich bed linen products from 15 manufacturers. The core of the promotion was a Lucky Draw raffle in which consumers could win prizes donated by CCI's promotions partners. According to data recently released by CCI, the draw drew 1,216 entries, and sales jumped 26 percent for CCI's mark licensees, for a total of $7.7 million, compared with $6.1 million for all of 1996.
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Comment:PROMOTIONS YIELD BOOST FOR U.S. COTTON OVERSEAS.
Author:Chirls, Stuart
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 28, 1999
Words:437
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