In the brand loyalty survey we conducted in partnership with the dealer publication Farm Equipment we learned that brand loyalty (featured in January installment of Farmer Iron in your favorite Farm Progress publication), on the whole, is staying pretty strong. There are some market segments where you may be more likely to shop outside your favorite color - planters and tillage are two - but on the whole a majority of respondents to the survey say they stick with one color.
We did build some open-ended questions into the survey that offer some insight into the thought process customers put themselves through.
One area that came across in several comments concerned the technology used by equipment makers. Often when you select a specific type of monitors and precision ag tools you may be married to one brand. As one respondent notes, sticking with one brand allows for "ease of changeover; wiring of monitors, tank brackets, etc." which is an area that may weigh heavily on buyers. Getting more tools to work together is important.
While equipment makers are looking at ISO standard control interfaces, that's not always true and you want those different tools to talk with each other. The industry, however, is working harder to make that a reality.
There's no underestimating the value of familiarity either as one respondent explains: "[I'm] familiar with the design, therefore I already know how to adjust, maintain and repair [the machine]. Commonality of parts with machines owned previously."
Several respondents echoed that sentiment simply by adding that their equipment was "compatible."
Several respondents noted that the performance of the specific machine comes ahead of the brand, and that shortline equipment makers are making headway here. Says one respondent: "We feel that shortline companies sometimes offer a better performing product for a value price."
One sentiment that came out was that you're looking at all the equipment out there - and you may like what you see, no matter what brand. As one respondent notes: "All equipment companies have leveled the playing field in the past few years. They all offer quality products at this time."
When I'm asked which brand I prefer, my answer is similar. Farm equipment buyers today will find top quality features and equipment from every brand on the market and you can pick and choose the machine that best fits your operation. On the whole, respondents agree.
But if the equipment makers are leveling the playing field, what's the biggest differentiating factor in the market? Check out my next blog for a look at that topic.