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Agrimarketing : September 2008
RURAL LIFESTYLE UPDATE EMERGING MARKET OPPORTUNITY M by Lyssa Surface, Market Directions, Inc. arket Directions, Inc working in collaboration with the Country Living Association (CLA) and the National Agri- Marketing Association (NAMA), has strategically pulled together marketers from agriculture, finance, real estate, retail and other industries to examine the dynamics of the rural lifestyle market and how companies can best tap into it. The population that comprises this segment does not fit under a tra- ditional agricultural category. By and large, many of these homeowners have higher net wealth, are at least 50-years-old, and have a non-farm primary income. They choose to live in the country as a means of authen- tic self-expression. Their chief desire is to escape the perils of urban Amer- ica but not forsake certain urban con- veniences and modern-day com- modities. DIFFERENT BUYING STAGES Based on census information in this category (non-farming rural home- owners), 74% live on less than one acre of land, 16% live on one to three acres, and the remainder live on more than three acres. Based on interviews with 360 CLA members, Market Directions determined that there are common motivators com- pelling this group of homeowners to relocate from urban areas to rural settings, including the desire for increased serenity, more freedom, and greater control. Childhood nos- talgia is also a factor for some. Market Directions CEO Susan Spaulding noted that this segment has different buying stages, includ- ing typical purchases before the move, during the first 24 months after the move, and later on once the lifestyler is established. “By examin- ing these buying stages, we can help marketers determine where the lifestylers shop and how they are shopping,” she said. “We can help marketers discover why consumers make the choices they do, and how 32 AgriMarketing ¦ September 2008 their brands can become the brand of choice for these lifestylers. “Marketers have a relatively under-developed understanding of the lifestylers’ value and emotional drivers,” Spaulding continued. “Beyond the broad theme of ‘free- dom’ and ‘enjoying the outdoors,’ it’s clear marketers want more robust buying cluster models employing personalities, values, ethnicities, self- awareness or other qualitative fac- tors to inform branding, product development, pricing, channel or other strategies.” PRODUCT PURCHASES Typical products that individuals purchase prior to the move include big-ticket items such as land or real estate financing packages, animals and pets, outdoors sports equip- ment, as well as utility vehicles. The list includes small items, too — new subscriptions, new services, and new home products. At the time of the move there are other typical pur- chases, for example, garden supplies, veterinarian supplies, animal feed, riding lawnmowers and tractors. As more time passes and the lifestylers accommodate to the new home and surroundings, their purchases tend to acquire more individualization that reflect more philosophical underpinnings (an RV vs. a Harley; a time-share vs. more outdoor gear). Where do these people go for product information? Before the move, they might inquire about rep- utable products from local real estate agents, chambers of commerce, or university extension service agents. Chances are they will also be search- ing the Internet and browsing maga- zines for information that will help them make a smooth transition. County and state fairs present a unique concentration of knowledge- able people gathered together. Agri- cultural education organizations such as 4-H and FFAor hobbyist organiza- tions such as Ducks Unlimited and Master Gardeners are often sought out. Farm shows, home and garden shows, and other related trade events are important sources, too. After the move, the sources for information change. The needs transi- tion from general to more specific. Pre- vious land owners, especially in the case of an immediate family member or relative, often serve as a top source. Local word-of-mouth also begins to factor in. Visits to nearby merchants including farm supply stores, hard- ware stores, implement dealers, and landscaping specialists take on new meaning as the lifestyler looks to glean information to get established quickly and begin growing roots. DISSECTING MARKET DYNAMICS Market Directions has sought to pro- vide potential marketers with in-depth analyses and opportunistic ways of looking at the market — it’s structure, trajectory, and how it fits into a broader consumer market context. The firm also provides companies with a greater understanding and articula- tion of the rationale for commitment and investment in the segment. “Unraveling the complexity, understanding the diversity, evaluat- ing the breadth, and capturing and tracking changes occurring in the market represent a challenge that marketers normally would need help in addressing,” Spaulding said. Market Directions is launching an in-depth “Customer Touchpoint Analysis” that includes an attitudi- nal survey focused on a broad and deep understanding of how all the various customer touchpoints influ- ence rural lifestylers. Along with the attitudinal survey a select number of rural lifestylers will be collecting direct mail samples, magazine advertising and articles, online offers and other materials which demon- strate how they are being reached and with what offers. Copies of the report may be obtained by contacting Market Directions, Inc., at 816/842-0020; www.marketdirections.com. AM
CAMA 2008 Canada