Low-down On the Farm: Traditional or Digital Media – How Do I Reach Farmers in 2021?

Farmers are at once among the most traditional and the most innovative of business people. Quick to adopt new technology when it makes business sense (drones, autonomous tractors, GPS, robotic milkers), they are also creatures of habit. They meet at coffee shops, attend crop tours, and stick with landline telephones — because that’s the way it’s always been done.

Considering this seemingly contradictory behaviour, how do farmers stack up with the non-ag world when it comes to information-seeking and media consumption habits?

Let’s get digital!

The 2020 Media Channel Study, put out by the Agri Media Committee, sheds some light. Although the study is US-based, a similar survey conducted in 2018 demonstrated that Canadian and US farmers’ media consumption habits track very closely together. The results are borne out by proprietary research conducted by Glacier Farm Media, the leading publisher of agricultural titles, traditional and digital, in Canada.

Media use among farmers

In short, farmers demonstrate one striking difference from consumers when it comes to media use — they consume traditional media at similar or even higher levels than ever before, while layering new digital and social media channels on top. It makes farmers amongst the most intense media consumers anywhere.

Young farmers most likely to enjoy some “Netflix and Till”

Some top-line results from the studies include:

Nine in ten operators view video content online
  • Magazines and newspapers continue to be the number one driver for prompting operators to visit agricultural websites
  • Young farmers are more likely than older operators to use online resources, making them more reachable via digital channels
  • Print, digital, and in-person resources each play a point-specific role in the purchase process life cycle
  • Farmers most commonly access the internet via mobile device
  • 75% of farmers use social media, most commonly YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, in that order
  • Nine in ten farmers view video content online, most commonly for ag-related education/information
  • In terms of content, western Canadian farmers watch the CFL and NHL at almost identical levels, followed by curling and satellite radio. In the east, the NHL is the predominant choice, followed by satellite radio
  • About half of farmers subscribe to video streaming services, with Netflix topping the list – younger operators are more likely to have streaming subscriptions

As we said in 2018, agri-marketers who completely abandon traditional media in favour of digital do so at their peril. A strategic and integrated marketing approach, featuring both traditional and emerging media channels, continues to be the best strategy to cover all the bases. In other words – print is dead; long live print in agriculture!

Bonus Content: Top Agricultural Searches for 2020

What drove Canadian agricultural-related online searches in 2020? The Google Year in Search reveals that ‘Agriculture Canada’ was the single most searched term, followed by ‘What is agriculture’ and ‘Agriculture jobs’. All three terms are most likely tied to the COVID-19 situation, as the agri-food sector was clearly in the spotlight, especially at the front end of the pandemic.

Top Google Searches, Canadian Agriculture, 2020
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