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Agrimarketing : March 2008
26 AgriMarketing March 2008 FOCUS ON: MARKETING TO THE RURAL LIFESTYLER DEVELOPING SUCCESSFUL PROGRAMS Editor's note: We invited marketing communications agencies who are active in developing and executing successful programs for the rural lifestyle market to share their experience in working in this important market segment. BROADHEAD+CO Minneapolis, MN www.broadheadco.com by Craig Roads, Creative Dir He commutes to a full-time job in Minneapolis in a new flex-fuel pickup. After work, he trades the pickup for a tractor to mow a few acres of hay. The kids keep a small herd of dairy goats for their 4-H project. Meet the new neighbors. They're not exactly farmers, and not exactly city folks, either. Whether you call them rural Americans, country life- stylers, or "ruralpolitans", these families are part of a growing trend. It's no secret that they are changing the economy of rural America. Whether they're com- muting to a metro area for work or are part of growing rural-based industries like biofuels, these folks are pumping money into rural economies. And they're bringing with them higher expectations for services like Internet, healthcare and other products. For example, one of our agency's clients, Finley Engineering, is lead- ing the effort to upgrade many small communities around the country to fiber-to-the-home technology that delivers Internet and streaming video at amazing speeds. There's some irony in the fact that it's easier and more cost effective to bring this technology to consumers in rural communities there than to their urban cousins. So how do we deal with the lifestyle segment from a marketing perspective? We start by recognizing that the rural lifestyle market is not an ag market, it's a consumer market. We're dealing with people who are far more brand-conscious, and they behave much more like urban con- sumer counterparts. Rural lifestylers have made a choice; they're "living the dream" of the country life. People look for products and ser- vices that authenticate and validate their lifestyle. So marketers have to show how their brand is relevant to the customer 's lifestyle, even with "utilitarian" purchases. For instance, a hobby farmer might opt for all the bells and whistles on a small tractor simply because he or she will enjoy driving it more. When we introduced a new kid milk replacer for Land O' Lakes Ani- mal Milk Products, the power of the brand -- as well known in consumer products as in agriculture -- gave us a leg-up in the market. Contrary to the ag market, premium pricing was not a barrier to sale because many goats are raised on "hobby farm" operations. To this audience, brand matters more than price. When I started in this business 30 years ago, feature-and-benefit adver- tising represented the majority of "agri-marketing." In lifestyle mar- keting, emotions play a large part in purchases and how we communi- cate. I've created campaigns for everything from herbicides to Harley-Davidson in my career and I've learned that lifestylers are a whole lot more similar to Harley owners than farmers. It's all about fulfilling the dream. From a media perspective, we have increasingly better options with verticals such as Living the Country Life and Progressive Farmer; how- ever, this is a diverse audience that's not easy to reach with a simple plan. You need to consider media by geo- graphic pockets and keep all options on the table. Cooperative planning with distribution can be highly bene- ficial. From a timing perspective, we're seeing less seasonality than the traditional ag business, which is good for all involved. Anyway you slice it; the rural and urban markets are increasingly connected. The changes in the rural marketplace are driving changes within our agency. We've added a dedicated consumer PR practice, headed up byTom DiBacco, a former net- work news correspon- dent. We've significantly beefed up our digital marketing practice to keep pace with the lifestyle market. And we've changed the voice in our mar- keting to remain relevant to the changing marketplace. MCCORMICK COMPANY Kansas City, MO www.mccormickcompany.com by Laura Mayfield, Pres McCormick Company has a long his- tory of communicating to the rural lifestyle audience, including our work with clients involved in fenc- ing, roofing, buildings, equipment, seed, pasture management and Western wear, as well as, credit and financial industries. We also recently helped to launch the Country Living Association. In fact, more than 15% of McCormick employees embrace this lifestyle --- it's woven into our daily lives. Everyone defines this market dif- ferently, including clients we've worked with in this segment. Our definition for this audience: People who own two or more acres and reside in the country. Some are using their rural lifestyle to drive income, while others are not. But the one commonality --- they want space and freedom to use their property. For those recently moving to the country, the first impression of com- panies marketing what are typically one-time purchase items, such as storage buildings, barns, equipment Roads
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