Rural Lifestyle Dealer's 2018 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook survey asked dealers to weigh in on factors influencing sales, including brand loyalty, dealer reputation and financing. Nearly 60% of dealers say customers have a brand in mind most of the time or almost always when they visit their dealerships. That’s down just slightly from the 62% reported in last year’s survey. (See the chart below.)
Dealers say many customers arrive after doing online research, which they then have to verify or clarify based on the customer’s understanding. Those conversations matter to the customer — and influence the closing of the sale. Nearly 77% of dealers say their recommendations are accepted most of the time or almost always. That rate is holding steady from last year. (See the chart below.)
Word-of-mouth (WOM) recommendations are another factor influencing sales. A recent study from the Word of Mouth Marketing Assn. (www.WOMMA.org) says that WOM drives a significant portion of sales, across categories, at an average of 13%.
Brand loyalty is something that dealers have counted on for years in the agricultural sector and a recent study showed some generational changes ahead. Osborn Barr, a marketing and advertising agency whose experts contribute to RLD, found that 78% of farm-raised 18-to-22-year-olds consider brand names important when it comes to purchasing farm products, compared to 90% of older generations. (Learn more about the study in the podcast “Generation Z’s Future in Agriculture,” http://bit.ly/RLDPodcastGenZ.)
Ultimately, financing finalizes the sale, with dealers saying customers seek financing on about 70% of purchases, up from the 62% reported in last year’s survey. Dealers tell us that what’s important to them is speed of approvals and a variety of options, especially for those customers who might be less credit-worthy.