Consumer Advertising Pilot Program a Success

Propane Awareness nearly doubles in Dothan, AL and Gainesville, FL


January 5, 2001

Washington, D.C. - The Propane Education & Research Council (Council) is pleased to share the results of a four-month consumer advertising pilot program completed late last year. The test results, compiled by Wirthlin Worldwide, McLean, Virginia, demonstrate that the advertising not only achieved the goal of increasing awareness among consumers in the test market areas-- nearly doubling unaided awareness in both test markets-- but also achieved an unexpected increase in favorability.

"The results of these market tests are extremely encouraging and should give us confidence in taking the next step toward a nationwide consumer education and advertising program," said Council President Roy Willis. "We have laid the foundation for this campaign and, should the Council fund it this month, we will begin the promotional efforts that many in the industry had in mind when they created the propane check-off program." The Council will hold a teleconference on Tuesday, January 9, 2001 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time to vote on the 2001 consumer education plan (docket #10390). The consumer advertising initiative is one element of the multi-faceted program.

The test program was designed to determine how well proposed television and print advertisements would deliver on the Council's objective of increasing awareness of propane among consumers. With support from propane retailers as well as the Alabama Propane Gas Association and the Florida Propane Gas Safety Education & Research Council, the ads ran in the Dothan, AL, and Gainesville, FL markets (with a control market in Savannah, GA) from July to November. It included 14 newspaper insertions each in the Gainesville Sun and Dothan Eagle and a 30-second TV spot that ran on three local broadcast stations in each city.

Wirthlin Worldwide conducted surveys of adults in the advertising test markets and control market before and after the advertising program. A summary of the test results is outlined below:

Awareness of the Council's advertising improved significantly in the two test markets and was stable in the control market. The following table shows the unaided recall ("Have you seen or heard any advertising regarding propane in the past few weeks?") of the advertising by market:
Unaided Advertising Recall
Market                    Pre-Test                    Post-Test
Dothan                       15%                            28%
Gainesville                  12%                            23%
Savannah                    10%                             8%

Total awareness was very high, as three in five adults in the two test markets recalled having seen the advertising. An additional 31% of Dothan adults recalled the propane advertising when prompted (bringing the total awareness to 59%) and 32% of respondents in Gainesville did (for a total of 55% recall).

Recall of the advertising message centers on cost efficiency and efficiency in general. Respondents also remembered seeing that propane is clean burning and can be used for heating.

The surveys confirm a definite link between favorability toward propane and the likelihood to consider using propane when it comes time to replacing an appliance in their home. The more positive someone is toward propane, the more likely they are to consider using it in their home. This reinforces the importance of building awareness, interest and knowledge in propane in order to lead to increased usage.

Click here to view the print ad tested in the advertising pilot program.

Click here to view the television ad tested in the advertising pilot program.

In addition to consumer print advertising, trade ads are currently being developed. The trade ad concepts were created with input from the trade target markets through focus group research. A total of five trade ads — one each for the forklift, fleet and agriculture markets, and two for homebuilders — will be produced for placement in trade publications beginning in February 2001.

The Propane Education & Research Council was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Public Law 104-284, the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), signed into law on October 11, 1996. The mission of the Propane Education & Research Council is to promote the safe, efficient use of odorized propane gas as a preferred energy source. For more information about the Propane Council, please call 202-452-8975.