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Agrimarketing : March 2009
FOCUS ON:MARKETING TO THE RURAL LIFESTYLER SERVINGTHEMARKET B by Lynn Henderson, Editorial Director est known to agri-marketers as the leading developer,manufac- turer andmarketer of large farm equipment, JohnDeere also has a highly successful business providing products and services to the rural lifestyle consumer. Created in 1991 and headquar- tered in Cary,NC, near the Raleigh- Durhamairport, Deere’s Commercial and Consumer Equipment (C&CE) Division currentlymakes and sells an ever-increasing collection of con- sumer-focused products including compact utility tractors, utility vehi- cles, snowremoval equipment, lawn and garden tractors, zero-turn mowers, and a full array of imple- ments and attachments. It even sells homeworkshop equipment such as circular saws and drills. Financing for all is available from JohnDeere Credit, of course. The C&CE Division has seen sig- nificant growth, posting a 14%sales increase over the past two yearswith total sales of $4.4 billion, represent- ing over one-sixth of John Deere’s total revenue. POINT OF DIFFERENTION Obviously, John Deere has been serv- ing rural-based customers since its The John Deere Drive Green Utility TractorShowincludes a specially designed tractor-trailer that transports a variety of tractors and other equipment for ruralpolitans to see and drive. The showwill stop atmore than 45 locations across the southern and eastern U.S. during the first fourmonths of 2009. founding 172 years ago. “We really didn’t get serious aboutwhat some call the ‘ruralpolitan’market until five years ago though,” says Jonathan Chase, Deere’sManager of StrategicMktg, Property Owner Segment. “Before then,we sawthemarket asmore of an extension of our ag cus- tomers.Whilemany of the products purchased by the ruralpolitanswere similar to our traditional ag cus- tomers, itwasn’t untilwe researched deeper thatwe began to understand their unique product requirements and purchasing process, and the busi- ness opportunities these presented.” Originally froma small dairy farmin upstateNewYork, Chase is a graduate of Kettering University and received anMBAfromHarvard Business School. Before joining Deere, heworked forGeneral Motors. Inmany cases, ruralpolitans are somewhat like farmers or ranchers because of their proximity and the types of products they are purchas- ing.However, they don’t necessarily make their purchases orwant to be marketed to in the sameway.“Like farmers, they have a passion for the land,” Chase reports. “However, their passion centers around enjoying their lifestyle, notmaking a living.” “This is a large and powerfulmar- ketwithmore than 25million cus- tomers and prospects in it,” Chase explains. “Many are dual-income familieswith above-average-paying jobs in urban areas. They commute to their homes in the country,so they don’t have a lot of extra time to deal with unreliable equipment. “Many are living in the country Toserve a diverse audience of rural lifestylers, large property owner and agricultural producers, John Deere provides awide selection of compact tractors, utility vehicles, hay and forage equipment and attachments. 22 AgriMarketing s March 2009 for the first time in their lives and operating equipment that they aren’t (more on page 24)