As they have in the past two brand loyalty studies, farmers who said that John Deere was their primary brand of tractors and combines registered a majority of the responses. This year, 60% of the total responses came from John Deere farmers. This is up from 54% of total responses in the 2014 survey.
John Deere farmers have maintained their level of brand loyalty over the course of the three studies conducted since 2011. In the most recent, 77% of Deere farmers would call themselves “brand loyal,” which is up from 71% in 2014. When comparing these farmers by annual revenue levels there is almost no difference, with 78% of the farmers who generate more than $1 million and 77% of those in the under $1 million describing themselves as brand loyal.
Source: Farm Equipment survey, June 2017
Overall, 77% of this group would describe themselves as “brand loyal” to the Deere equipment brand. This is a 6% improvement in the 2014 study, when 71% said they were brand loyal. There was almost no difference when John Deere farmer’ responses were broken down by revenue. Of those in the under $1 million in annual revenue, 77% described themselves as “brand loyal.” For those with more than $1 million in revenues, 78% said they were “brand loyal.”
Time to Buy. Of all the Deere farmers in this year’s study, 84% desire to buy new equipment of the same brand as what they consider to be their primary brand. When segmented by revenue, there was a 7% difference in how the two groups of farmers started the purchase process. For those under $1 million, 80% want to first look at Deere products. Of the Deere farmers with annual revenues of more than $1 million, 87% desire to buy John Deere equipment.
When initiating the buying process for new equipment, 84% of Deere farmers start first by looking at “green” equipment. For those who produce more than $1 million in annual revenues, this number jumps to 87%, while 80% of Deere farmers in the under $1 million level start the decision making process by first looking to John Deere equipment.
Source: Farm Equipment survey, June 2017
Purchased Other Brands. While Deere farmers are dedicated to the company’s tractors and combines, they will step outside the brand preference and purchase other brands of other types of equipment, most notably tillage tools. More than half of them (54%) report purchasing tillage equipment that was not branded John Deere. This is actually an improvement over the 2014 survey when 63% said they purchased tillage products not manufactured by John Deere.
Source: Farm Equipment survey, June 2017
Nearly half (49%) of those with earned revenue of $1 million or less reported buying non-Deere tillage equipment. An even larger number (58%) of those Deere farmers in the more than $1 million revenue category purchased tillage tools from other manufacturers.
Deere made solid improvement in all of the other equipment groups vs. 3 years ago. Still, 29% said they bought precision farming equipment that was not produced by Deere. Nearly 30% reported that they acquired haying and spraying equipment manufactured by other companies. The same basic trend held true for John Deere producers, regardless of annual revenue.
John Deere Farmer Comments
In addition to asking farmers, “When you purchase new (not used) farm equipment, do you begin the process with the desire to purchase the same brand as your tractor/combine?” The survey also asked them “Why?” Here’s what John Deere farmers had to say.
“Dealership relationships … Not always applicable … Customer service … When I consider a new piece of equipment, if it is to replace an existing similar piece, I first consider whether or not the old one was ‘doing the job.’ If it wasn't, I research other brands for their strengths … Quality, parts, service … Because modern eqt is now connected by software so, you need to not be blending to get performance … The gps equipment is all the same … Up until just recently John Deere meant quality and the local dealers were very helpful … Service and dealer … I grew up on JD and have never had a reason to stray … simple, same filters and parts … New world. Dealers not friendly anymore … Local service but parts are a big question and my loyalty is not as strong as it used to be … local dealer service and location … Dealer support with parts and service is the main reason. Resale value years down the road is another … I look for technology and features first … Familiar with dealer and service … Depends on what's available at my local dealer … Because of precision technology, planter and combine talking with each other … good equip. The trade number makes more discount …. closeness to farm … I like the sales, service and parts people … In our area better service with John Deere … Technology is more important … Deere is the best … Dealer is close and provides good service … I want quality at a fair market price. The major tractor and combine manufactures are often too slow to enter the marketplace with new products … service- quality equipment — four dealerships within 50 miles … service by technician that knows us … because we have had some of the other brands and are sorry when they do not work as well as Deere … Always check price and if it is available … best luck with the brands we use like product and how it performs … Already do business with the company … dealership … Always found that it may cost more, but equipment is proven and holds resale well … I believe it's the best, plus it's our only real option locally … Resale is the best … Because of dealer close by … Local monopoly. Service and parts issues … Usually due to familiarity with using/operating the brand … John Deere has had a reputation in years past of quality and longevity, but now not so much.
“I usually try to find out what other farmers are pleased with eq they have purchased … It is what I am familiar with … Just familiar with brand and like working with the same dealership … Every company has strengths and weaknesses. To get right equip for your farm you need to buy different brands … Dealer service! If there isn't a good parts and service program after the sale why buy it! … John Deere has served us well for a lot of years and they hold their value for future resale … dealer support … doesn't matter if its good quality I will buy regardless of brand … You have to have a starting point unless what your looking for is not offered by that manufacturer … It's all about logistics. How quickly I can get parts to get things running again. I have 2 JD stores within equal distance and have gone to the JD warehouse in Milan, Ill., occasionally if the local dealers don't have the parts on hand. Other equipment dealers are significantly farther away from me … I like JD but I need to get the most for my money … dependable … PARTS AVAILABILITY and dealer location … close dealer … I have a good relationship with the local John Deere store shop manager. That is a plus for getting things serviced … Usually looking for a select performance or ability from a machine in my price range. Price is the driving force … Dealer trust, convenience and service … Equipment support, parts availability … Stick with what you know … the name brand does not always have what I may be looking for … familiar with equipment … auto guidance, etc., transfers from one to the next … It's what we and our employees are familiar with both in operation and service … Because of past experience, reliable, dealer support and trade-in value … Dependable and compatible gps and similar cab/features … But I have never purchased anything new in my life and I'm 57 … Location of the dealerships … We run almost equal red and green with most tractors green an two Case combines … Reliability … already used to it … feel other brands of some equip. are better … Service and parts … 40 years of dependability of life resale value and cost of ownership … John Deere has been good to me! Very reliable equipment with excellent resell value! … Don't want to mix up equipment. Easier service … compatibility … One has known experience with the brand and that is worth something … monitor and steering are the same … I always compare what is new vs. what I already have, I have an open mind … Best service and parts … I look at the best built machine for the price … Don't buy new … just stuck on the same name brand … Familiar … John Deere has always been well engineered for the most part, but probably the biggest factor is the number of dealers in the area. The only other brand that comes close is Case IH in this area … I like the way they work and last … Service and reliability.”
Then & Now. Compared to 5 years ago, 21% of Deere farmers said they are “significantly more loyal” or “somewhat more loyal” to Deere-branded equipment today. At the same time, 23% reported to being “significantly” or “somewhat” less brand loyal than they were 5 years ago.
When asked to describe their feelings about their primary brand preference today vs. 5 years ago, 21% of John Deere farmers are more loyal today and 23% said they are less loyal. Some 56% indicate their level of loyalty has not changed in the past 5 years. In the 2014 survey, 34% of Deere farmers said they were more loyal and 19% less loyal than in the previous 5 years. About 47% reported to feeling about the same as they did previously. In the group of farmers earning more than $1 million in annual revenues, 26% reported more loyal, while the same percentage said they were less loyal. Under one-half (47%) said they felt about the same.
Source: Farm Equipment survey, June 2017
This compares to 34% who said they were more brand loyal in 2014 than they were 5 years earlier. In that survey, only 19% reported being less loyal compared to 5 years before.
For Deere producer earning less than $1 million in annual revenues, 18% they were “more brand loyal” than 5 years ago, while 19% said they were “less brand loyal.” However, those Deere farmers with more than $1 million in revenues, 26% claimed to be “more brand loyal” today and the same percentage (26%) said they were “less brand loyal” vs. 5 years earlier.
Reasons to Switch. The top three reasons why a John Deere customer would consider switching brands were identical regardless of revenue level. When all Deere farmers were considered, the factors that would lead them to jump to another brand were “better parts availability” at #1, “better dealer service/repair” at #2 and “better product engineering” at #3.
There was some shifting for the #4 and #5 factors. For all Deere producers, #4 reason to switch was “better manufacturer warranty” and #5 was “product specialists at the dealership.” Broken out by revenue level, the #4 reason for those with less than $1 million was “product specialist at the dealership” and #5 was “better manufacturer warranty.” For those surpassing $1 million in revenue, #4 was “better manufacturer warranty” and #5 “product specialist at the dealership.”
Tough Ag Economy. While the John Deere brand is thoroughly embedded in farmers who have been loyal to the company’s iconic green and yellow equipment, regardless of annual revenue level, about one-half of Deere farmers says they would consider switching to another equipment brand in the current ag economy.
Regardless of annual revenue levels, about one-half of Deere farmers said that, considering the ongoing low commodity price environment, they would consider switching to another brand of equipment if circumstances dictated a change. Overall, and even 50% of farmers who consider John Deere as their primary brand of equipment report that they would look at other equipment. Of those farmers in the over $1 million in annual revenue, 47% said they would consider switching, while 53% of farmers in the under $1 million level would also look at another brand of farm machinery.
Source: Farm Equipment survey, June 2017
Specifically, the final question in the 2017 brand loyalty survey of farmers asked: Considering the decline in commodity prices during the past few years, has your attitude toward equipment purchases changed in that you are more willing to consider brands other than the one that you would typically prefer?
In the case of all those farmers who consider themselves brand loyal to Deere products, 49% said they would consider other brands of ag machinery. In the case of farmers with under $1 million in annual revenue, 51% said they think about switching to other equipment. For farmers who exceed $1 million in annual revenues, 52% indicated they would be willing to look at equipment produced by other manufacturers.
But in the end, would they switch? That’s the more important question.
John Deere Farmer Comments
In addition to asking farmers, “Considering the decline in commodity prices during the past few years, has your attitude toward equipment purchases changed in that you are more willing to consider brands other than the one that you would typically prefer?The survey also asked them “Why?” Here’s what John Deere farmers had to say.
“Should have parts on hand when I need them … Have a long relationship with my current dealers. Their employees are friends and part of the our community … The only reason for me to consider change would be better service and overall cost … resale … Part of the decision to buy a different brand is availability. I bought a different brand of feed mixer, hay rake and pull-type crop sprayer because they were not available from John Deere … You get what you pay for … Price … I would because if the brand I prefer is 50% to 100% higher priced than some other brand I will buy the other brand that's cheaper if it is decent quality … Price … Your operation’s bottom line comes first. If another manufacture is building a product that meets your requirement and does so at a reduced cost of ownership then you should consider it … Would consider things such as hay rakes, hay mowers, but doubt I'd switch from JD on tractors and combines … lower price of equipment means less brand loyalty … I don't produce commodities … nothing runs like a Deere … Price is important, trying to keep equipment debt down. Have shopped online more and made a couple of purchases online. Bottom dollar … In a depressed farm economy, the last thing is an additional risk of an unknown … I'll go to the dealer with the best service all day long … as more brands are becoming available and quality of other brands become better your choices are likely to be spread out over various brands … The reliability and performance of our machinery and dealer have become even more crucial now with margins thinning … I am happy with my current equipment/reliability … I'm still not buying anything new or used … Location is very important other brands are not close enough for me to switch … Higher price. Past problems service and parts. Features simpler resale, durability, comfort … Experience with present dealership and brand reliability … like what we have … Not really … I have tried another brand of corn head and the quality and the cost of ownership is not there … John Deere is a quality product! You get what you pay for! … Just don't want to change brands. Not that much different in cost … Will use equipment for a longer period of time … Always keep an open mind. Technology always changes so one needs to be flexible … quality always cost more … It seems some larger manufacturers cut corners on quality but not price, where some smaller specialized companies may have higher quality products for the same price … I would just wait to purchase so I could get what I want and need … Price. “If price is considerably less with comparable quality I would change … It's not about brand, it's about price. There's just not enough money to buy new right now, period … Quality, job performance, service and reliability are critical, no matter what the economy is … Price … What is more cost effective? … I believe other manufacturers are building better equipment … Tillage equipment has unique differences between brands and warranty isn't as important without drivetrain issues … Price and dependable … I'm 3rd gen to run JD and we stayed with JD back during all the other downturns in this roller coaster economy ride. I just take care of the equipment I have and will continue to use it before I'd trade it for another brand … I try to buy the most dependable from the start … price … Price … Came close to buying a different brand of swather last year, but came down to having a local dealer. I will consider other brands though because of the lack of parts. All the dealerships don't stock parts like they use too. Have to drive or wait until the next day on lots of parts … Price … DEALER SERVICE, parts and dealer location … My local dealer has been beside me through good times and bad. When things are tough for the grain farming economy, they are for the equipment dealerships also. A good dealership such as mine is willing to do what they can to help their customer and keep them loyal. It goes both ways … value at trading time … Because the price of the other brand of equipment might be a lot less … Price, technology advances … No Kubota. Bad experience … You have to pay for it whether corn is 3 or 5 dollars … Not in the market … Service and parts are always critical considerations. Often times short line dealers do not have the inventory or knowledge to repair this late model equipment. As a note manufacturers no longer build for long term use. All they build for is the new buyer and the used buyer has to contend with what’s left. This is partly why used equipment has fallen so badly on resale value … We use mostly J.D. equipment and all J. D. tractors … I tried off brand equipment (Agco). The initial lower price was very much offset by poor resale value retention. Additionally, dealer support and institutional knowledge was a large problem. I am sticking with John Deere and Case IH from here on out … willing to buy used of what I want instead of new at dealer … I would be somewhat hesitant to go with another brand as I have been burned before … Auto-steer/precision equipment doesn't work well from one brand to the others … we just tend to run what we have longer and repair more if needed rather then trade … Would probably buy used instead of new … Service is still the number 1 factor in purchasing equipment … Reliability, and resale value … Resale of Green Paint is strong here … Price … poor time to change equipment with down markets … Local monopoly … With the decline in commodity prices I am not willing to purchase equipment from anyone/brand. They are all priced at $7.50 corn, $15 beans and $3 lb. feeder calves. This simply has to change.”