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Agrimarketing : March 2012
26 Agri Marketing March 2012 RURAL LIFESTYLE CONSUMER THE DYNAMIC RURAL MARKET What's new for the Rural Lifestyle market? Agri Marketing invited several market leaders focusing on Rural Lifestylers, to get answers and some solid ideas about reaching out and attracting these prospects. IT'S THE RELATIONSHIPS by Angela Larson Director of Marketing Woods Equipment Company The husband and wife with five acres growing vegetables for the local market, as well as the father and son with 2,000 acres and a shed filled with millions of dollars of equipment, consider themselves "farmers." However, to approach them with the same products, messages and media would be a marketing disaster. Woods carefully distinguishes between "lifestyle" and "commercial" end users in strategically targeting those contemplating the purchase of our equipment. We pay attention to hard demographics, as well as the softer elements of the "ruralist" persona, and continually try to get inside their heads to anticipate needs for products and information. Toward that end, we are constantly challenged to rely on focus groups and quantitative research. On the other side of the research argument is the Steve Jobs approach: "A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." Jobs was a champion of drawing from personal experiences and wants. The truth likely lives somewhere in the middle, which is why I'm a fan of balancing intuition and data in better understanding target markets. As marketers, we are warned against including ourselves as part of the demographic, yet I find it difficult to separate my work and personal life in that respect. My husband is a commodity farmer and our homestead sits on about five acres in the middle of 300 acres of cropland. We mow, move snow, build fences, till a garden, restore old building and dream about a flock of backyard chickens --- all those things that bring a ruralist to life. Naturally, I share my personal perspective when we're discussing new products, developing advertising creative, and planning photo shoots. That perspective has served the company well in the past year. Woods was pretty quiet in the marketplace for a few years, but in the past several months, we have invested our resources in rebuilding a foundation of promotional tools and in testing media (print, web sites, social media and television). What did we discover? While the media mix is a whirlwind of change, one constant remains: the dealer relationship. Ruralists prefer to get their information from magazines and web sites but once they narrow their choices, they still rely on the expertise of their dealer to guide them in the final decision. Therefore, we stay close to the field. We work with our Dealer Council and District Managers to make sure the promotional tools we are creating are relevant and usable. The development of our retail financing program was based on discussions with our Dealer Council and the design of our literature and full-line catalog were created with guidance from District Managers around the country. We just reconfigured our co-op advertising program and made significant changes based on requests from the field.Co-op advertising is a program that that requires constant attention and focus. At a time when many companies have reduced their national advertising budgets, co-op can be a highly-targeted avenue for reaching ruralists while strengthening the dealer relationship. In creating a more effective and relevant co-op program, we're working with dealers and publishers to identify media opportunities at a regional level --- it's a work in process, but it's already proving to be a win-win. FOCUS ON CUSTOMERS by Cleo Franklin VP of Marketing and Strategic Planning Mahindra USA Since 1994, Mahindra USA has successfully built a reputation with the Rural Lifestyle market by focusing on products that are simple, easy-to-use and provide customers with unparalleled value to connect with the land they love. We understand the importance of the rural lifestyle market to our continued growth and expansion in the North American market. We are the No. 1 selling tractor in the world and our goal is to be one of the top tractor manufacturers in the North American market. To achieve this goal, we must focus on meeting the needs of our customers and potential customers in the lifestyle market. Mahindra's product ranges in horsepower from 22 HP --- 83 HP, the range that most Rural Lifestylers will use to accomplish all of their projects. We anticipate that the rural lifestyle market will show growth over the next few years --- as more and more people seek to realize their dream of owning and working their land --- and we have recently introduced new products in anticipation of this growth. With the Mahindra Max 22 and 25 models, we are setting the new standard in the subcompact market and raising the bar in terms of performance, versatility, ease-of-use and value. Unlike the lawn and garden tractors that currently make up the subcompact category, the Mahindra Max 22 and 25 are real (more on page 28) Larson Franklin
January February 2012