How Generational Change Will Affect the Ag Customer Experience

In case you didn’t know, it’s National Agriculture Week! And as the frozen tundra of the Midwest begins to thaw before the start of another planting season, at Simantel we’ve been thinking a lot about the customer experience in agriculture.

Like many industries, talk of digital transformation has been growing in agriculture and there is far more technology available on the modern farm than just a generation ago. Precision agriculture has pushed GPS, semi-autonomous tractors and enhanced weather forecasting onto farmers. But, when it comes to consumption of marketing information by farm operators, the transition to digital has been a bit slower.

According to the 2018 Media Channel Study of the Connectiv Agri Media Committee, almost 66 percent of survey respondents say they still start their agricultural products buyer’s journey through traditional industry publications. As with any statistic, the real story is in the details. While traditional media still plays a prominent role in ag decision making, the data shows that it is likely a trend that won’t hold up for very long.

The Seed Has Already Been Planted

When you break those numbers down and look at media preferences by age, an interesting picture begins to develop. Among operators over the age of 65, the preference for consuming ag publications on at least a weekly basis is about 70 percent when they are at the onset of thinking about a purchase. However, when you look at the opposite end of the spectrum, ag operators below the age of 35, the opposite is true. Nearly 70 percent of all operators within this age group prefer to first engage with digital content, primarily in the form of websites. And their preferences for information received via email, text, and social media are all significantly greater than their older counterparts.

One might look at the data and think that true digital adoption is still a few years off. But as operators continue on their journey towards making a purchasing decision, all age groups converge on digital platforms. Across all age demographics, digital leads the way in providing information to operators who are beginning the research (38 percent of operators) and narrowing (33 percent of operators) phases of the journey. And in the end, the in-person presence of ag dealers and retailers is still crucial to helping operators make a final purchase decision assisting 34 percent of all operators.

Invest in CX and Stand Out in the Field

As generational change continues in the ag industry, what was once a very traditional customer experience composed of off-line marketing coupled with the in-person touch of an ag dealer, will very soon become a largely digital experience. And the brands that can not only build compelling digital customer experiences, but also capture the right customer data along the way, will have a strong advantage over brands still investing heavily in the traditional customer journey. Not just basic customer data, but the data to support deep and engaging conversations between prospects and dealers to close the sale. Developing a compelling digital customer experience can take time and investment so now is the time to look at how your brand can be positioned to take advantage of this pending sea change in the agriculture industry.


2018 Media Channel Study of the Connectiv Agri Media Committee: