Brand Assimilation in Multi-Generational Farming Operations

by Mark Smither
November 3, 2011

“Because my grandpa had it, my dad had it, now we have it.”
Jason, 38, Iowa

Older producers are getting ready to retire. Younger producers are taking on more day-to-day responsibility around the farm. This creates a unique decision-making dynamic that has many agri-marketers asking, “How do multi-generational farming operations make major purchase decisions?”

To answer this question, Paulsen conducted 14 different interviews with farm families across the Midwest. We spoke with two different farming demographics: older row crop producers, ages 46 to 70, and younger row crop producers, ages 25 to 45. These demographics represent a typical father-son(s) or father-daughter(s) farming operation. The purpose of these interviews was to gain insight into the purchase patterns of multi-generational farm families and identify ways agri-marketers can effectively reach this important audience.

This is what we learned.

When it comes to deciding upon major purchases such as equipment, crop inputs or technology upgrades, there is a high degree of brand assimilation on multi-generational farming operations.

If producers are loyal to a specific brand, it is generally because the brand has been assimilated into a farming operation from one generation to the next. Just like general consumers, producers prefer to buy brands they already know based on four categories: familiarity, integration, consistency and relationship.


Most producers will purchase the same brand of equipment simply because they are more familiar with the capabilities and control system of the product. Taking the time to learn how to operate new equipment was considered too time consuming.


Both older and younger farmers agreed that, in most cases, an integrated equipment system (i.e. tractor, planter, sprayer, attachments, etc.) is important to maximizing operating efficiencies and improving production.


With so many “unknowns” from one growing season to the next (i.e. moisture, heat units, pests, diseases, etc.), producers need a compelling reason to switch brands and add another variable.


If a specific brand is represented by someone who has earned the farmer’s trust—usually through a consistent pattern of exemplary customer service, proven results and fair pricing practices—there is a much greater chance of brand exclusivity for the farming operation. In many cases, farmers are more loyal to the relationship than the actual brand.

Read the complete thought paper and discover the key marketing takeaways to incorporate into your marketing program.

Mark Smither

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