The impact of a merger can take time to unfold. When Dow and DuPont came together and later spun out Corteva Agriscience, there were plenty of details to work out. Today, May 12, Corteva has announced its revamped seed marketing strategy that includes ending the Mycogen name, launching a new retail-only brand – Brevant – and bringing new focus to the Pioneer name.
Judd O'Connor, Corteva Agriscience president, spoke with Farm Progress about the moves which are aimed to serve customers based on their buying preferences through a segmented route-to-market approach. The aim is to strengthen Corteva's offering for customers who buy through retail locations, beginning in the 2021 season.
"Mycogen today is not strictly a retail brand," O'Connor says. "And we have an opportunity with Brevant to really have a brand that's focused exclusively on retail."
He explains that the new brand has a portfolio and support structure built around meeting the needs of retail customers. Currently about one-third of farmers purchase seed through a retail dealer rather than a seed dealer.
He notes that the Mycogen brand will be taken off the shelves and be replaced with Brevant in retail locations. "Now in terms of impact, we will have some people, similar with our multi-channel work, [who will see a change]," he says. "The vast majority of dealers and employees will land in a good spot in a channel and brand that fits with the strategy. The people impact will be minimal."
Brevant will be sold through retail outlets in the Midwest and Eastern Corn Belt while the non-retail brand in the region will be Pioneer and supported through the agent selling process. The Brevant brand was launched in 2018 in nine countries outside the United States following the merger of Dow and DuPont. The brand will expand the retail dealer's access to Corteva's genetics, technology and traits and will drive growth and collaboration with Corteva Agriscience Crop Protection.
Another seed channel change
In the Southern, Southwestern and Western markets, the brand is Pioneer. In this region, including the Mid-South, Pioneer seed has long been sold through retail locations, and that will continue. "We're going to pull Phytogen into that same retail structure," O'Connor explains. "Retail partners will not only sell Pioneer seed but Phytogen cotton seed. We have very dedicated cotton experts with the Phytogen brand, and in terms of interaction with retail, we'll be aligned with service and training and product information."
Corteva will be retiring Terral Seeds and the REV brand, as part of this retail realignment in the Southern markets and expanding the number of retailers offering Pioneer in key geographies. Phytogen cottonseed will continue to be offered for sale through existing retailers and distribution partners. The change is that a unified sales team will serve customers in the Mid-South and Southeastern U.S. and support the Pioneer and Phytogen brands.
The last piece of the puzzle is the regional seed brand lineup. Corteva trimmed some brands earlier and is centering up on the following regional brands for the future: Dairyland Seed, Hoegemeyer, NuTech and Seed Consultants. The company will also maintain the AgVenture brand with its independent network of seed companies and the Alforex brand.
What farmers get out of the deal
"When we first came together with Corteva we recognized that we needed to work hard on a clearly defined strategy on multi-channel seed sales," O'Connor says. "We're focused on farmers and how they do business. We have a segment that want to do business with retail, have one account and we want to be able to provide them the best genetics in the industry; and do business with them in the way they want to buy."
O'Connor says those farmers that are 100% committed to the high-touch Pioneer brand will have that channel for seed. "And some farmers like working with that local or regional brand," O'Connor says. This strategy brings that all together.
He notes that the merger created new opportunities, but the focus was clear: "How can we maximize the level of support we could provide, improve the ease of doing business and simplify everything we're doing? That's kind of been the journey from day one, and we've made a number of heavy lift kind of moves…to a clear strategy to service customers the way they want to do business."