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How farmers buy crop inputs

In December, Farm Industry News will publish its 2013 Buyers’ Forecast issue, chockfull of predictions about pricing and supply of farm inputs for the upcoming year. In my tangential approach to researching this story, I stumbled across the term “neuromarketing,” described as a new field of marketing research that studies buyers’ brains and measures their body’s response to marketing stimuli.

Big-name companies with fat research budgets use this physiological intelligence to understand consumer preference and how consumers make buying decisions and then use that information to tailor their marketing strategies.

Now, back to our “Buyers’ forecast” issue for December. I wanted to include some information on how farmers make buying decisions about crop inputs such as seed, chemicals, fertilizer, and even farm machinery. Do they react in ways that are different from the general consumer?

A quick Google search brought up the name Roger Dooley, a marketing consultant and regular contributor to Forbes and author of the book  Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing. I went straight to the source and asked him my question.

“Jodie, I don't think I have any insights related to farmers as a group,” Dooley replied in an email. “I would expect that they would be subject to the same non-conscious preferences and behaviors as other humans.”

Hoping to redeem myself, I followed up by asking if he could share any highlights of his research as it pertains to consumers in general.

Acknowledging that this was a really broad topic, he shared a couple of thoughts as they relate to a general audience.

Subconscious shopping. “While we think of ourselves as rational economic beings, in fact a huge amount of our behavior is controlled by non-conscious processes, as much as 95% according to neuroscientists,” Dooley says. “Some tests have shown that our subconscious mind decides on a course of action seconds before we consciously make the same decision! In some cases, we reach a decision based on non-conscious or emotional factors ("buy the red convertible!") and then explain it with logic ("that car gets great gas mileage, and holds its value better than most cars.")  In many cases we are unaware that's what we are doing. This is why many advertisers don't talk about their products at all and use purely emotion-driven ads.”

The pain of paying. “We all like bargains, and we all hate to get gouged,” Dooley says. “Brain scans have shown that when we see a price that strikes us as too high, it actually lights up the pain center in our brain. If we have a choice, we won't buy that overpriced item. If we are stuck with that price, like a $4 soft drink in a movie theater, we'll pay but be unhappy about it. We're feeling that pain!

“No idea if that's what you are looking for...,” he wrote.

It was just what I needed.

Now, back to the “2013 Buyers’ Forecast” story I had originally planned to write.

For more information about neuromarketing, read Dooley’s blog at visit his website at  


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