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Syngenta's AVICTA Complete Pak named 2006 product of the year.

Capturing a 50% market share is almost unheard of in the competitive ag market. And to attain it in the first year of the product's introduction is probably unprecedented.

But that is Syngenta's new cotton product AVICTA Complete Pak's position in the marketplace and that is why the judges named it AgriMarketing's Product of the Year.

As background, there are approximately 14 million acres of cotton grown in the United States annually, of which an estimated four million are infested with nematodes, microscopic worms that feed on plant roots, causing loss of yield and creating an entryway for diseases. It is estimated that cotton growers invest in excess of $40 million each year to control nematodes.


"AVICTA Complete Pak is a nematicide, insecticide and fungicide seed treatment combination that has revolutionized cotton production for thousands of U.S. cotton growers," says Syngenta Seed Care Crop Manager Steve Russell. "Featuring AVICTA, a first-of-its-kind seed treatment nematicide, and trusted products Cruiser seed treatment insecticide and Dynasty CST seed-delivered fungicide, AVICTA Complete Pak offers top-notch, early-season protection against nematodes, insects and diseases in the form of a convenient and simple-to-use seed treatment."

"It is the first seed treatment product to offer complete cotton seedling protection against all important early-season destructive pests," reports Dr. David Long, Syngenta Seed Care Technical Manager. "While most existing nematode control products also control insects, AVICTA Complete Pak is the first product that encompasses nematode, insect and disease protection on the seed--further setting it apart from its competitors."

In the past, many growers have relied on granular in-furrow materials metered out through hopper boxes for early-season insect and nematode control. This practice requires frequent refilling, cumbersome calibration and the need to monitor product flow through drop tubes that can easily become clogged during planting, leaving plants unprotected. AVICTA Complete Pak requires less handling and could eliminate the need for hopper boxes at planting, allowing for improved efficiency and better use of labor during planting.

"In addition to offering more convenience and increases in efficiency," Long says, "the use of a seed treatment means the product is targeted at the source of the problem. This type of targeted use means less active ingredient is needed for optimal results, leading to a more user-friendly product. AVICTA treated cottonseed was granted Reduced Risk status by the EPA when compared to the use of standard in-furrow granular products.

"Best of all," he says, "it offers growers all of these advantages without reducing the efficacy they've become accustomed to with older products. With the unique seed-delivered system, the early-season protection of the product helps ensure better root development, and in turn a vigorous crop with improved return on investment. More than 150 crop consultant and university research trials conducted over a five year period have determined that AVICTA Complete Pak produces yields equal to or greater than Temik, (51bs./a), 80% of the time. This powerful protection offered in the most convenient package--a seed treatment--means less hassle and more money in the pocket of the grower."


AVICTA Complete Pak offered new challenges to the Syngenta Seed Care marketing team since it delved into a market previously untouched by seed treatments. Among these challenges were convincing growers and other influential third-parties that a seed treatment can perform as well as or better than traditional nematicide products while maintaining sales in the other important segments for disease and insect control.

To tackle these challenges, Syngenta developed several objectives for the marketing plan:

* Introduce AVICTA Complete Pak to growers, consultants, retailers, seed companies and media across the Cotton Belt.

* Convey the value of the product as an innovative, convenient and effective alternative to current nematode control options.

* Generate interest and anticipation for the upcoming product launch.

* Educate internal and external audiences about nematodes, symptoms of nematode damage and the concept of AVICTA Complete Pak.

* Educate internal audiences about this novel product and provide them with the information and tools to fully support it in the marketplace.

* Strengthen awareness of the proven effectiveness of the insecticide and fungicide brands in AVICTA Complete Pak.

* Promote its availability during the 2006 planting and growing season.

Emerging from these objectives was a strategic, five-part communication plan, encompassing nearly two years.


The first phase, beginning two years prior to first sales, focused on developing the correct product positioning. Fostering professional relationships with the nematologist community was a cornerstone of this stage of the campaign. Syngenta held two nematologist summits to gain professional and technical input, and support for controlling nematodes with AVICTA Complete Pak, helping to properly position the product and set realistic consumer expectations. These relationship-building efforts turned out to be very fruitful as the nematologists supported the AVICTA Complete Pak campaign in various ways including providing nematode maps for, assisting with print and video testimonials, speaking at plot tours and helping conduct an intense two-day course, coined "Nematodes 101," to educate the Syngenta sales force about nematodes. In all, AVICTA Complete Pak entered the market with full support from this important group of experts.


Launching the brand identity was the primary goal of the second phase of the AVICTA Complete Pak marketing campaign. On March 4, 2005 at 8:00 a.m. EST, Syngenta announced the new brand name globally. Simultaneously, the AVICTA name was unveiled at a media breakfast at the opening of the Mid-South Farm and Gin tradeshow in Memphis, TN. Also at the tradeshow, the new brand name was showcased in the Syngenta Crop Protection booth through graphics and giveaways with the AVICTA Complete Pak logo.


"The third phase was to build excitement around it," says Communications Manager Jodie McClement. "The AVICTA Complete Pak name was everywhere via print, outdoor, radio and Internet advertising. Taking advantage of a registration too late to enter the marketplace for the 2005 growing season, Syngenta collaborated with growers to do additional trials in the form of real-world field situations. This gave Syngenta the unique opportunity to get growers and consultants out in the field to see the results of AVICTA Complete Pak for themselves, in their regions."

To showcase these grower plots, Syngenta implemented the AVICTA Complete Pak Cotton Belt Road Show. A departure from the standard plot tour, this road show--lead by a caravan of vehicles clad with oversized AVICTA Complete Pak magnets--included 35 grower plots across nine states. More than 550 growers, retailers, seed company representatives and media attended various portions of the road show. The road show helped answer any remaining questions about whether AVICTA Complete Pak could effectively protect against nematodes, insects and diseases.


Education was the focus of the fourth phase of the campaign. It was critical to the success of AVICTA Complete Pak that the sales force at Syngenta know and recognize nematodes and the problems they can cause. "Nematodes 101" was a two-day intensive, classroom-style course for Syngenta internal personnel led by nematologists and Syngenta technical representatives. The "Think Out of the Box Challenge" was a three-part e-mail based communication to each of the sales districts challenging and rewarding them to read information and answer questions.

It was vital to educate retailers and seed companies about nematodes and this new product as well. To provide seed company and retail customers with an indispensable resource about precise and effective application of AVICTA Complete Pak, Syngenta designed an in-depth application and marketing manual. Syngenta also developed an online nematode training module where Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) could earn continuing education credits. In addition, there was an online training module and comprehensive video produced about AVICTA Complete Pak to educate all audiences.


The final phase of the AVICTA Complete Pak marketing plan was the official launch. This segment continued the print, outdoor, radio, Internet, television and direct mail advertising but added new twists. Syngenta developed talking outdoor billboards where the billboard viewer is prompted to tune to a radio station listed on the billboard to hear an AVICTA Complete Pak message.


"We have two avenues of distribution," Russell says. "First is via purchasing seed which has been treated with our product from the two seed companies that we currently have agreements with--Delta & Pine Land and Stoneville. In this case, growers will order it from their local seed dealer.

"The second is from Certified AVICTA Complete Pak retailers we have licensed," he continues. "We currently have several of these locations and growers can place their orders with them and the retailer then applies the product with a special piece of equipment that we have provided.


Because of its method of distribution, the product's team tapped into several of Syngenta's business units' sales forces to help bring the product to the marketplace. The Seed Care business unit, which AVICTA Complete Pak is a part of, took the lead on the product, of course. However, because of the relationships that already existed, Syngenta's Greenleaf business unit, traits licensing, sales team was involved in creating the partnerships with the seed companies. Also critical to the products' success in the field was Syngenta's Crop Protection Southern Field Crops sales team and the retailers.


The Syngenta team has high hopes for the product and is looking for even more rapid adoption of it. "Initially when we launched the product, we emphasized its nematode control," Long says. "We felt that market was somewhat underserved and was a great fit."

However, AVICTA Complete Pak also offers total plant health benefits. In some cases, growers may not have been using a fungicide, but after using AVICTA Complete Pak, with its fungicide, they observed healthier plants. Its seed treatment insecticide helps the plant establish a healthy root system early, resulting in more vigorous plants.

"These developments brings AVICTA Complete Pak into a $100 million market range," Russell says.

A high mark, but given their successful track record, one that appears to be very attainable.

by Lynn Henderson, Editorial Director


When asked to identify the single most important factor in the successful launch of AVICTA Complete Pak, the marketing team's answer is unanimous: the involvement of nematologists early in the process.

The product's Technical Manager Dr. David Long reports, "We wanted these specialists to understand the benefits of our product, so we got them involved with it very early. In advance of the product's launch, we held two summits with prominent nematologists, where they helped us properly position the product and set realistic grower expectations."

They also were involved in plot tours, providing testimonials, and conducted training for the Syngenta staff.
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Title Annotation:PRODUCT OF THE YEAR
Author:Henderson, Lynn
Publication:Agri Marketing
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Nov 1, 2006
Previous Article:About the award.
Next Article:Communications plan: planting the seed for a new way of thinking.

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