Many marketers wonder where consumers get information and who they trust, especially around science-based topics like vaccines, GMOs, nutrition and healthcare. With the advent of Donald Trump and his infamous screeds against the mainstream media (#FakeNews), information providers are under ever-increasing scrutiny. And the media marketplace is becoming ever more crowded and fragmented.
But what about farmers? Where do they get information and who do they trust? The answer might surprise you.
Farming today is one of the most complex enterprises anywhere. Modern farmers must be agronomists, accountants, environmentalists, scientists, bankers, mechanics and much more. So, where do they turn to for advice in running their capital-intensive, weather-dependent, complex operations?
Two recent studies paint a clear picture. Unlike consumers – who are more and more eschewing traditional media outlets such as national newspapers, network television and radio in favour of new media channels – farmers are consuming traditional media more avidly than ever, while adopting digital and social media at rates similar to consumers. In other words, farmers are layering social and digital on top of traditional media and consuming more media than ever before.
The 2016 Agricultural Communications Review by IPSOS Marketing surveyed 681 commercial farm operators, defined as those reporting more than $250,000 in gross farm sales.
Overall, farm print media and websites continue to be the leading sources of information for farmers – a trend uncovered in the previous IPSOS study, conducted in 2012. Here are some of the key results from the 2016 study.
A more recent survey, the 2018 Media Channel Study, put out by the US-based Agri Media Committee, confirms these trends, in both the US and Canada – which show remarkably consistent results.
The Media Channel Study brings out the ‘when’ of farmer media habits. Farmers use traditional media such as magazines and newspapers earlier in the decision-making process, specifically when they start thinking about making a purchase and begin researching options. Ag websites feature more prominently during the research and ‘narrowing’ stages, while dealers and retailers are the primary information sources at the ‘final decision’ stage.
For social media platforms in Canada, this study found YouTube to be the preferred channel at 59%, then Facebook at 39%, and Twitter at 27%. Instagram came in at 10%, but anecdotal evidence suggests this is likely increasing.
The bottom line for agri-marketers seems intuitive: abandon traditional media at your peril. A strategic and integrated marketing approach, featuring both traditional and emerging media channels, continues to be the best strategy to cover all your bases. Print is definitely not dead when it comes to getting your message out in agriculture!
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