Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level



Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology


Cox, Casandra

Committee Member/Reader

Rucker, Katherine

Committee Member/Second Reader

Miller, Jefferson

Committee Member/Third Reader

Whitehead, Isabell

Committee Member/Fourth Reader

Cox, Casandra


Since the 1980 farm crisis, the agricultural economy has continued to decline with United States farmers receiving less than 16 cents per dollar spent on food (Dunnum, 2017). As a way of combatting decreased profitability, agricultural producers are turning to direct marketing (Rainey, et al., 2011). Direct marketing exists as a social marketing in which producers develop a personal relationship with their customers (Rainey, McGraw, & Popp, 2011; Weinreich, 2011). In order to be successful in social marketing, the audience with which they are trying to reach must be determined as well as the most effective way to meet the audience’s needs (Weinreich, 2011). Focus groups is a method through which qualitative data is collected and used for marketing analysis (Weinreich, 2011). This research project involved conducting two focus groups for a direct marketing dairy farm, Creamy Hills Dairy (CHD), in order to identify the audience demographics and determine the audience preferences for marketing. Nvivo 11 was used to analyze focus group transcripts and emergent themes were identified. Within the focus groups, questions regarding consumer needs, product pricing, branding, communications efforts, and customer service were presented. Analysis of the focus group data revealed direct market consumers prefer simple, transparent marketing which allows individuals to connect with their food source and the individuals who grow that food. While budget was a concern, nutrition and quality came before price in purchasing decisions. These results indicate that CHD should include an integrated marketing plan focused on building consumer relationships with the CHD family in a way that simplifies the lives of the CHD customers. Information regarding food quality and nutrition should be shared in marketing material as a means of strengthening consumer ties to CHD.


dairy crisis, social cognitive marketing, social marketing, direct marketing, local food movement, focus groups, service learning