THE MARKETING 100;STRAIGHT ARROW GENE CARTER

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When gene Carter joined Straight Arrow Products in 1992 as exec VP-sales and marketing, company President Roger Dunavant was already thinking about marketing their Mane `n Tail horse shampoo to humans. After all, 10 out of 12 bottles were being used for human application.

Mr. Carter took a look at where the product was going and how it was being used, and came up with a marketing plan. One aspect: the company created the brand Conceived by Nature, for human sales. Conceived by Nature is the same product as Mane 'n Tail and costs the same.

Mr. Carter started targeting humans in 1993 with product sampling in feed and tack stores, eventually moving into beauty and drug retail outlets. He also did some trade advertising in beauty and agricultural books and began sponsoring Nascar auto racing drivers Bobby Allison and Derrike Cope.

Then last year, the marketer launched a major advertising effort from Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, Little Rock, Ark. A print campaign appeared in Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, among other titles, and 30-second spots ran on cable TV. This year, Mr. Carter will expand the campaign to include radio and newspaper advertising.

In 1989, Straight Arrow had sales of $500,000 when the shampoo was sold only for horses. Over the last two years, sales at the company have averaged $45 million.

Currently, the products are sold in 40,000 retail outlets but Mr. Carter hopes by year end to increase that number to 150,000. And in 24 months he hopes to double the size of the company.

Mr. Carter, 45, insists he didn't create the trend of humans using Straight Arrow's horse shampoo but says he did take advantage of it.

"Breeders and other horse handlers began using our products on themselves and liked the results so much they began to tell their friends. We just capitalized on it and began to spread the word even more through our marketing and advertising efforts," Mr. Carter says.

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