Update on Brand Loyalty

December 24, 2013

When we published the results of our first “brand loyalty” survey in 2011 (Brand Loyalty: Is It Dead?, Farm Equipment, January 2011) we said it would lay the groundwork for future surveys to monitor farmers’ attitudes about their preferences when it came to the equipment they were buying.

We did that this past November. You can read about some of what we found in this issue of E-Watch. The full report appears in the January 2014 issue of Farm Equipment.

For that first report, I interviewed Scott Deming, who I heard speak on the topic of brand loyalty a few months earlier. Several things he said continue to resonate with me and I think they’re worth repeating.

Also in preparing for writing that first report, I came across a definition of brand loyalty in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science that I really liked. It said, “brand loyalty is a consumer’s commitment to repurchase or otherwise continue using a brand that’s demonstrated by repeated buying of a product or service or other positive behaviors such as word of mouth advocacy.”

Every dealer who is reading this column has a base of customers who are loyal to either their dealership, the brand of equipment they sell or both. The ideal situation is earning customer loyalty to the dealership, regardless of the brand of equipment they handle.

When I asked Deming about this, he said, “If all you do is market the brand that you’re selling and focus on the stuff that you sell, you have commoditized yourself right along with your product. If you put the right price on a product, anybody can sell anything to anybody — once.

“That doesn’t create loyalty. All it does is tell the customer he got a great deal. The fact is I can get your stuff anywhere. As a dealer, you need to figure out a way to get farmers not to remember what they bought, but to remember who they bought it from.”

When you read the full report, it is abundantly clear that farmers want to do business with the same dealership as often as they can. Three of the top five reasons they would switch brands, including the top two, involve the dealership they do business with. These reasons are “better parts availability” and “better dealer repair/service.”

Deming says what dealers should be reading into “reasons” like these is the farmer is really saying he’s looking for reliability. “Which means I don’t have to worry, which means I can sleep at night, which means that when I call you, I trust in my heart and soul that you’re going to be there for me.”

What I find encouraging is more and more of the dealers I speak with have gotten that message. They understand and accept that reliable service is the most important thing they’re selling, which means they’re marketing and selling themselves. The brand of equipment is incidental for the best dealers.