A new study conducted by Purdue University can help agribusiness leaders better understand their farmer customers. The Large Commercial Producer (LCP) survey, conducted every five years by the Center for Food and Agricultural Business, explores the current concerns, preferences, behaviors and attitudes of U.S. farmers and ranchers. The 2014 survey features results from nearly 1,700 producers.
"Our goal is to help agricultural producers and agribusinesses reach higher levels of success," says Mike Gunderson, Purdue professor and associate director of research at the center. "Armed with information and insights about their farmer customers, agribusinesses can create new business strategies based on what their customers value. That approach results in more effective partnerships with key clients."
Started in 1998, the LCP survey focuses on corn/soybean, wheat/barley, cotton, fruit/nut/vegetables, dairy, hog and cattle producers from across the United States. The 2014 survey generated more than 400,000 data points, which the center research team, led by Gunderson, condensed into four themes - producer strategy, loyalty, buying preferences, and information and the salesperson.
Gunderson says the research team, consisting of Purdue agricultural economists, modified the survey tool for this iteration to include questions about "how producers think about the strategies that make them successful, what amount of time it takes to implement those strategies and what worries them at night." Farmers answered questions about five different strategies: managing their production, managing people, controlling their costs, spending time marketing their output, and controlling land, equipment and facilities.
"We found it interesting that what farmers think makes them successful and what they actually spend their time focusing on are not always the same," Gunderson explains.
The team also studied farmer loyalty across different products - seed, crop protection, feed and nutrition, animal health, fertilizer and capital - at the brand and local dealer/retailer level. They used the same products to evaluate buying preference based on three attributes: price, performance and relationship.
The role of information and salespeople has been included in each iteration of the LCP survey. This version reflected changes in Internet-based technologies, including the addition of questions about social media, emails and text messaging. The team looked at how the importance of different media sources, information sources, salesperson activities and salesperson attributes affected producer decision making.