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Agrimarketing : September 2008
RURAL LIFESTYLE UPDATE FREQUENTLYASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RURAL LIFESTYLER Editor’s note:Questions abound about the Rural Lifestyle segment. Tohelp provide some answers, we posed some frequently asked ones among representatives of organizations working with them. HOW BIG IS THE MARKET? by Bob Van Voorhis Associated Ag Publications email@example.com In representing Farm Bureau publi- cations that account for over two million farm and rural households, I’ve been keenly interested in quantifying the “ruralpolitan” market for some time. Since the Farm Bureau mission state- ment includes “bettering the farm and rural Voorhis lifestyle,” this is the core of these publications’ circulation. The most recent research I’ve seen puts the number of rural resi- dents at 69 million in 27 million households. That’s 25% of the U.S. population, and surpasses the com- bined population of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. One interesting side note to consider: 66% of all U.S. rural residents are located in the Midwest and South. Another note: only a little over 1% of these rural residents are farmers. I’ve reviewed some recent research from individual state Farm Bureaus that has made me dub these ruralpolitans as “super-consumers.” They have above-average income, like to stock up and have higher pur- chasing demands, due to owning more pets, horses, land, buildings, and equipment than city-dwellers. When you combine those factors with the tremendous size of the mar- ket, this group deserves all the atten- tion it’s getting. Reaching them in quantity and in a cost-effective man- 36 AgriMarketing ¦ September 2008 ner is the big issue that marketers have to confront. WHAT DO THEY BUY? by Julie Schwalbe Living the Country Life Julie.Schwalbe@meredith.com Nestled comfortably between the agriculture segment and the tradi- tional metro consumer market, the rural lifestyle segment — nearly 27 million households — continues to thrive. Over the past five years, mar- keters and media organizations have gained considerable insight into the buying power of rural property own- ers and the sales opportunities they present. While rural land ownership is the common factor connecting this group, their purchase decisions and con- sumer needs are as broad as their geographic diversity and interests. As a result, these women and men are significant buyers of items they need to maintain their places in the country and their rural lifestyles. In addition media consumption of this segment remains equally strong. Feedback from our rural lifestyle audiences, as well as advertisers, affirms the great buying power of this segment, con- tinuing to make it a highly attractive audience for marketers. HOW DO THEIR DECISIONS DIFFER FROM FARMERS? by Troy Schroeder Broadhead+Co firstname.lastname@example.org to mowers, compact utility tractors and other property maintenance equipment, rural lifestyle consumers rate high in purchases of fencing, out- buildings, pickups and trailers, and livestock and pet products. Our research shows that the aver- age Living the Country Life reader tends to be more insulated from many of the economic problems that impact traditional metro consumers today. That means their buying pat- terns remain equally strong not only for the everyday products and ser- vices they need, but also for larger- ticket items. Similarly, our market research indicates, and our Living the Country Life readership, listenership and viewership data confirms, that When you examine the purchase decisions of the lifestyle market, you have to start with motivation and depth of knowledge, both of which are quite different for the lifestyler vs. commercial ag markets. Take compact tractors for exam- ple, a market we serve for Massey Ferguson. The typical lifestyler has limited experience purchasing trac- tors. They don’t necessarily know what capabilities and features they need to complete the chores they have. They don’t buy by horse- power. They buy by asking “will it run the mower.” You also have to consider how lifestylers seek information. Often fairly affluent and highly educated, lifestylers want to make an informed decision, so they do their homework before visiting a dealership. And they often visit more than one dealer. In dealing with the lifestyle market, you have to accept that brand loyalty is far less than it is in ag. Lifestylers will likely compare up to three trac- tor brands before they buy. Finally, lifestylers place higher value on options, safety, information and assistance after the sale. They often give their business to the dealer who takes the time to under- stand their job at hand and guides Schroeder (more on page38)
CAMA 2008 Canada