If location, location, location are the three most important things to a realtor, then knowledge, knowledge, knowledge may be the three most important things to a rural lifestyle and farm equipment dealer.

And we’re not talking product knowledge. Of course you know the advantages of the latest ATVs on the marketplace and the best attachments for the job, or the advantages of installing a Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) on a compact tractor.

But we’re talking knowledge of your customers’ preferences for everyday activities and products.

What do they drive to your dealership? Are you more likely to find them in a deer stand or a bass boat on a frigid early morning? When they leave your dealership, are they headed to the local BBQ joint or back to work?

GfK MRI looks into these questions and provides a detailed view of the 226 million adult consumers in the U.S. — their media choices, demographics, lifestyles and attitudes, and usage of almost 6,000 products in 550 categories.

The results of consumer preferences are fascinating.

As you plan your next open house event, consider what should go in the candy bowl at a trade show, or wonder what would be the best-received appreciation gift for your customers, our agency pulled some GfK MRI data that provides a better understanding of your audience’s consumption of goods and services.

Interestingly, in reviewing the Doublebase 2011 GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, one can deduce that rural residents* participate in fewer leisure activities than other Americans, which means their off-hours are very important to them. When considering contest prizes, look at rewarding customers with a way to enhance their time off.

Leisure activities rural residents enjoy by popularity, include:

  • Dining out (47.5%)
  • Entertaining friends (36.6%)
  • Baking (25%)
  • Barbecuing (33%)
  • Reading (37%)
  • Playing cards (21%)

And while it may not be a surprise, GfK MRI data confirms that the rural population is 57% more likely to attend a truck and tractor pull than the general consumer audience. They also particularly enjoy fishing, hunting, target shooting, motorcycling and rock climbing.

When planning your next customer event or looking to stock your store’s refreshment center, here are some fun facts to consider: When it comes to nuts, about 22% of rural residents eat peanuts; about 19% eat cashews and just about 16% prefer mixed nuts.

To wash these snacks down, GfK MRI found, when it comes to non-cola brands, the rural population is 31% more likely to consume Mountain Dew than the average consumer.

About 15% of the rural population preferred it, followed by about 14% who preferred Dr. Pepper and 11.57% who preferred Sprite.

Of course, we can’t pass up the Pepsi vs. Coke challenge. While only by a narrow margin, Coke beats Pepsi, with 23.81% of rural residents consuming Coke and 21.44% consuming Pepsi.

Looking to stock the give-away bowl? While no particular flavor of gum stood out in GfK MRI’s survey, GfK MRI found that rural residents preferred Trident and Wrigley’s brands.

Unlike the gum category, the rural residents did have a preference when it came to candy — especially to chocolate candy.

Among rural residents, the most popular chocolate candy is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, eaten by nearly 30%, and Snickers, eaten by more than 24%. Four other chocolate candy brands are eaten by about 14% of survey respondents: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, Kit Kat, Butterfinger and M&M’s Peanut.

Details like these may seem like just that: details. But the more you know about your customers and their preferences, the better you will be at reaching out to them. And the more responsive they will be.

Data. It’s what’s for business.