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Agrimarketing : March 2009
FOCUS ON:MARKETING TO THE RURAL LIFESTYLER CONNECTINGWITHTHECONSUMER by Susan Spaulding,Market Directions, Inc. I n this hour of economic uncertainty, a newand timelymarket study examines the rural lifestyler and details howrelated companies can effectively connect to and profit from thismarket segment. TheMarket Directions, Inc. study focuses on the spectrumof resources that rural lifestylersuse tomake their brand choices and define their lifestyle. It was producedformarketers that see this group as a potential customer base butwant and need to learnmore. The rural lifestyle continues to be a growing trend. The product and service needs of people choosing the rural lifestyle are on amuch smaller scale than the traditional farmer, which enables aworld ofmarketers to expand theirmarket opportunity without exorbitant change.Also, rural lifestylers assign high impor- tance to brands,which allows brand relationships to potentially thrive. MarketDirections, a brand perfor- mance consultancywith a specialty in agri-business, anchored the study on four recent company initiatives: • Amarketers’ summit of 30 marketers. • An attitudinal survey of 360 rural lifestylers,which focused onmoti- vators and values related to their lifestyle. • An attitudinal survey of 471 rural lifestylers drawn froma national consumer panel. • Atouchpoint analysis of direct mail,magazine advertising and editorial, online offers and other materials that demonstrates how the rural lifestyler is being reached andwithwhat offers. EXAMINING THE NITTY-GRITTY Whatwere the takeaways? For one, there is a clear distinction between Baby Boomers (the older generation andmore likely to be empty nesters) and Gen X (the younger generation andmore likely to have children at home) rural lifestylers. Beyond gen- erational distinctions, the data revealed three decision styles that are classified as: (1) the Informed 20 AgriMarketing s March 2009 Price Shopper, (2) the FrustratedHobbyist, and (3) the Casual. The Informed Price Shop- per represents 40%of the rural lifestyler population. They research products in advance, they price shop and theywant the retailer to educate them. Brand plays a big part in their decision. The FrustratedHobbyist More than Avg Frustrated Hobbyist 27% Median Informed Price Shoppers 40% Casual Property Owners 33% Few Low Moderate Spending Orientation represents 27%of the rural lifestyler populations. They also research products in advance. They want the retailer to educate them, but they don’t believe retailers understandwho they are. The Frus- tratedHobbyist havemore on-farm hobbies than the other two groups and spendmore on their hobbies. The Casual Property Owner rep- resents 33%of the rural lifestyler population. They aremore laissez- fair.They do not research products in advance, they are not especially interested in being educated and, not surprisingly, they are spending com- paratively less than the other groups. BREAKING THROUGH Retailers can develop a strong rela- tionshipwith the rural lifestyler by being consultative onemore time. These buyers are hungry for infor- mation, and theywant help thinking throughwhat they need to do and howto do it. Connectingwith them by being visible in the community, providing themhow-to knowledge, and being easy to find on theWebor through targetedmedia is essential. TammiWecksler,Manager, Massey Ferguson BrandMarketing, encouragesMassey Ferguson dealers to engage in conversationwith the shopper, to drawoutwho they are, what they do, and howthey like to shop—so the decision process can be accelerated and the buyer can be quickly serviced. “TheMassey-Ferguson team found theMarket Directions report an invaluable resource in validating our strategy to break through the competitive clutter and connectwith the rural lifestyler.An initiative is underwaywhichwill address the needs and interests of this specific market and provide a rich, online experience for the segment,” says Wecksler. In the sense that these buyers are inundatedwith directmail offers, advertisements on theWeb, and other forms ofmarket clutter, they are just like any other buyer out there: It isn’t difficult for themto ignore a lot ofwhat they receive. THEIRWANTS AND NEEDS In the end, rural lifestylers are con- sumers.Youcan learn to be their brand of choice.You need to capture their attention in the home, on the Web, in the community and at the point of purchase.You need to be rele- vant, tapping into the powerful emo- tional connections they havewith the land, and you need to think retail, building a long-termrelationship. Subscriptions to this report are still available andmay be obtained by con- tactingMarketDirections, Inc., at 816/842-0020; susan@marketdirections. com.MarketDirections is a brand performance consultancywith agri- business and ruralAmerica as a core practice. AM Susan Spaulding is the CEO of Market Directions, Inc. High Acreage