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Agrimarketing : March 2009
SERVING THEMARKET/continued frompage 22 all that familiarwith, sowe design the equipment to be simple to oper- ate.And in ourmessaging,we stress howour products fit into their lifestyle by highlighting the ease of attaching implements like our drive overmower decks.” Although there has always been an active rural lifestylemarket, the push began at the turn of the 21st Century as baby boomers fled the metropolitan areas for the safety and serenity of rural areaswith itswide- open spaces.At the same time, broadband and cell phone coverage expanded into rural areas, allowing formore telecommuting. DEALERS AND PRODUCTMIX John Deere serves the Rural LifestyleMarket through its tradi- tional dealerships. It also began selling some of its equipment through large national chains such as Lowe’s and HomeDepot. “Whilemany of our dealers have served thismarket for a long time, there are always newideas andways they can improve,” Chase says. “We encourage dealers to share best prac- tices across our network and develop marketing plans for the rural prop- erty owner. In addition,many host service clinics for novice operators, cosponsor eventswith complemen- tary brands and allowneighborhood groups to use their facilities for meetings.” One example of how John Deere is working with dealers to target the rural lifestylers and give thema hands-on product experience is with its DriveGreen Utility Tractor Show, which is traveling to dealer- ships and events across the coun- try.Thismobile event features a uniquely detailed semi-tractor and trailer that transports several of the company’s latest utility tractors to all the events. “The Drive Green events are designed to give peoplewhomay not be familiarwith utility tractors and other property-maintenance equipment a chance to operate the equipment for themselves and learn more about the features, attachments and other aspects of equipment own- ership in an informal, fun atmos- phere,” Chase explains. “So far the response to the events has been over- whelmingly positive fromthe deal- 24 AgriMarketing s March 2009 ers and the thou- sands of cus- tomerswho have attended.” The Drive Green Utility Tractor Show will hitmore than 45 locations across the South, Southeast and East Coast from last December to thisApril and many more events are being planned for the western U.S. and Canada later in the year. In some areas, because of grow- ing urban encroachment into agricultural areas, a traditional ag machinery dealer had to change with its customer base to survive. In other cases, dealers sawawhole newmarket opportunity and began implementing business changes and product offerings, includ- ing feed and other livestock products, wearables, and a host of other goods and services. “Ruralpolitans are very busy people,” Chase says. “They don’t have a lot of product knowledge or patience and they need to feel com- fortable in the store they are going to purchase from and return to frequently. In many cases, the dealers’ competitor is not the other ag equipment dealer across town, it’s the large retail storewhere the consumer may be more accus- tomed to shopping. “So our dealers train their employees howtoworkwith rural lifestyle buyers. That is howthey dif- ferentiate themselves. Inmany cases, they hire specialty salespeople to workwith them.” COMMUNICATIONS To support their efforts, John Deere has launched aggressive advertising campaigns. Itsmediamix includes magazines targeted to themarket, spot TV,directmail, events shows, and online programming. It also has Jonathan Chase is Deere’sManager of StrategicMarketing, Property Owner Segment sponsored radio and TV campaigns focused on equipmentmaintenance tips. One of the C&CE Division’s unique touch points is a partnership it haswith United Country Real Estate, one of the nation’s largest realtors of rural properties.Why partnerwith a realtor? Following the purchase of a property, the next items that are normally bought are the various pieces of equipment needed tomaintain it. John Deere also has partnered with a feed company to host horse- care clinics and has introduced a series of service clinics forwomen. LOOKING AHEAD “We have a very positive outlook for the ruralpolitanmarket,” Chase con- cludes. “Froma competitive stand- point,we have the extensive dealer network, products and programs in place thatwill continue to increase the company’smarket share in this segment. “In the long run, I can see the end of the daily commutemaking living in the country an evenmore attrac- tive lifestyle for consumers, and a significantmarket for us.” AM