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American Saddlebred Education and Promotion Initiative Underway


Lexington, Kentucky ­– The American Saddlebred Horse Association announced today that aggressive communication and promotional initiatives suggested by the membership and board leadership beginning last October and approved for the 2006 budget at February’s convention are now underway.


“We are pleased to have reached a consulting agreement with two distinguished faculty leaders from the University of Kentucky’s Gatton College of Business and Economics, School of Management,” Alan F. Balch, executive secretary, said. 


They are Robert Dahlstrom, Bloomfield Endowed Professor of Marketing, and Steven Skinner, Rosenthal Endowed Professor of Marketing.


“Professors Dahlstrom and Skinner have already held several in-depth meetings with me,” Balch said.  “And more are scheduled in the very near future.  We’ve accepted their proposal for a formal three-phase research and action plan.”


The first phase of the study is to assess objectively the current state of the American Saddlebred breed, based on official data housed in the Registry, as well as all secondary data provided by the Association that will be helpful in examining trends in all phases of breeding, exhibiting, and using American Saddlebreds.  This assessment is vital in preparing for the second phase of the plan.


In Phase II, current perceptions of the American Saddlebred “brand” of horse will be examined closely, researching attitudes among current advocates of the Saddlebred and perceptions of the Saddlebred by advocates of other breeds and former breeders of Saddlebreds.  Within this phase, two stages of research will be conducted:  focus groups and personal interviews of stakeholders in the breed, nationwide, followed by a large cross-sectional national survey developed from the initial stage research.  The research phases are planned to be concluded by October.


Phase III will concentrate on developing formal strategies and tactics based on the objective research findings, for growing the American Saddlebred “brand.”  They will be designed to deliver benefits customers and potential customers desire; keep the American Saddlebred relevant to consumers; outline pricing ideas that incorporate consumers’ perceptions of value; coordinate a full spectrum of promotional activities that stimulate commerce and build equity in the American Saddlebred brand; and monitor brand equity as it grows and develops.


“I’m very pleased to be working with such capable experts,” said Balch, “who have already demonstrated a practical and intense interest in our subject matter.  As hands-on individuals who work not just in the marketplace of ideas but in the real markets of consumers, Dahlstrom and Skinner understand we aren’t engaged in an academic exercise but need to see actionable results of their work.  Early in my professional life, at Santa Anita in California, I was fortunate once before to achieve some real results based on such projects as this, working with faculties at Claremont and the University of California, Los Angeles.  We’re hoping to replicate that kind of success with this exceptional breed of horse.”


Balch said that while he will work with this team directly, the new Education, Communications, and Marketing Committee, chaired by Sandy Lilly, will also provide advice and interface with the membership.  In addition, all previous studies and plans prepared over the last 20 years are already in the hands of Dahlstrom and Skinner. All ideas and suggestions from the membership provided to the leadership recently, and in the future, will also be part of their review.


“We hope to arrange a committee meeting followed by a members’ forum during the Lexington Junior League Horse Show in July, when we can all receive a progress report.  I’m looking forward to some very dynamic and useful thinking to be coming forward in the next several months,” Balch said.

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