With the understanding that there’s strength in numbers and the hope that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, the Gulf Seafood Marketing Coalition is positioning itself to maximize marketing opportunities for catches from the Gulf states, simultaneously promoting consumer trust and consumption.
Louisiana is set to play a critical role in the coalition, which is comprised of representatives from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. “As goes Louisiana, so goes the Gulf,” explains Mike Voisin, the coalition chairman.
By creating an overarching framework for the states to work within, they aim to showcase Gulf seafood in a way that both complements and preserves individuality.
“Each state is very distinct and we want to create synergy and leadership to save money and give direction to our efforts,” says Voisin. “We don’t want to take any uniqueness of any states away. We want to support them.”
Checking America’s Pulse
The coalition gathered in downtown New Orleans recently for a presentation of the results of the initial phase of the Qualitative Research for In-Depth Consumer Research project, a study designed to tap into the pulse of consumer feeling about Gulf seafood today.
The data came from 10 focus groups from five cities – Birmingham, Tampa, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles – who were asked questions about seafood in general and Gulf seafood specifically, unaware of the study’s focus.
The study yielded some salient insights. Considered “more special,” seafood seems something to sit down and enjoy, more often at a restaurant than at home. Seafood eaters feel smart – both for consuming a brain food and making a healthy dietary choice. And seafood affords consumers a mini-vacation of sorts, a reminder of travel and an exotic escape from the humdrum.
One association proved dominant in all markets – the Gulf and shrimp.
Why It’s Good News for ‘Gulf Shrimp’
This is welcome news for Louisiana, which is in the process of developing its own premium wild-caught shrimp brand. A premium product can generate a “halo effect,” raising the value of related products. Such is the case with Alaska, which was able to build a strong brand association with lobster and Alaskan king crab, bumping up the reputation of all the state’s seafood.
Louisiana coalition members were impressed with the presentation — encouraged by the initial findings and eager to hear the quantitative analysis to come.
“The presentation reinforced a lot of the things we’ve been working on,” says Ewell Smith of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “The most important thing we’re looking at is states working together. That’s critical for us.”
The data dovetails with the strategic direction for Louisiana seafood, explains executive committee member Harlon Pearce.
“It shows we’re serious, getting the data we need to get the plan forward. The Gulf will be better off after the program,” he says. “As a Louisiana man I’m partial to Louisiana and the development of the Gulf puts a halo on Louisiana seafood.”