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.) brand_unit_requested.png

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. ( 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,”

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.