COLOR LOSING IMPORTANCE. When purchasing planters and drills over the past 5 years, 40% of growers went with a unit other than what was offered by their “primary brand” of farm equipment.

The loyalty that farmers hold for their preferred color or major brand of ag equipment took a sharp turn downward in 2020.

Among the other Lessiter Media properties is our Ag Equipment Intelligence twice-a-month paid subscription newsletter for equipment executives, marketers and ag machinery dealer principals. The publication’s editors have conducted farm equipment brand loyalty surveys among growers in a dozen states for the past 10 years. The 2020 study included responses from 357 growers.

Big Drop In Brand Loyalty

Ten years ago, 63% of growers indicated they were loyal to one farm equipment brand. This improved in 2014 to 69% and increased to 75% by 2017.

But for 2020, overall brand loyalty to farm equipment took a major step back, as only 63% of the responding growers described themselves as brand loyal. This 12% drop in the past 3 years brings brand loyalty back to the levels seen in the 2011 study.

Growers were also asked to describe how their views about their primary brand preference have changed over the past 3 years when it comes to buying farm machinery. Some 5% fewer farmers indicated they were significantly or somewhat more loyal to their primary brand today. Some 3% of growers felt they were significantly less  or slightly less brand loyal while 2% indicated no change.

While it’s difficult to determine a specific cause for the deterioration in brand loyalty, it may be due to the rising cost of ag machinery, lower commodity prices and reduced farm income. The advanced technology that’s adding to the cost of new equipment that isn’t being fully utilized is still another reason.

Among the top five factors that would cause a grower to switch brands, the local ag equipment dealer is directly responsible for at least three: parts availability, repair service and available/well-trained technicians.

The one factor which the manufacturer has sole responsibility for when it comes to why a farmer might consider switching brands is product engineering. But according to the latest survey, pricing now plays a bigger role in farmers’ purchasing decision than product development.

Color-by-Color Analysis

Each of the four major brands covered in the survey scored lower on brand loyalty among farmers than they had in the 2017 survey.

✔︎ The AGCO brand loyalty was 55% in the 2020 survey, a drop from 60% in the 2017 survey.

✔︎ Brand loyalty among Case IH growers dropped from 80% in 2017 to 67% in 2020.

✔︎ John Deere brand loyalists dropped from 77% in 2017 to 65% in 2020.

✔︎ Among New Holland brand loyalists, the score dropped dramatically from 63% in 2017 to 47% in 2020.

Growers were also asked if they had purchased farm equipment that was other than their primary brand line during the past 5 years. Only 12% of these growers had done so with combines while 23% had done so with tractors. Another 49% had done so with tillage implements.

Would You Describe Yourself as a Brand Loyal Grower?
  (% of farmers answering "yes")
Brand 2020 2017
All growers 63% 75%
AGCO 55% 60%
Case IH 67% 80%
John Deere 65% 77%
New Holland 47% 63%
  — Ag Equipment Intelligence Brand Loyalty surveys


However, 40% of growers had purchased planters or drills from companies other than their primary brand line, an increase from 30% in 2017. Among no-tillers, this wouldn’t be surprising due to the widespread availability of no-till planers, drills and air seeders from shortline manufacturers.

“40% purchased planters or drills that were other than their primary brand line…”

Some 41% of growers had purchased sprayers from other than their favorite brand line. This was an increase from 32% in the 2017 survey. These numbers are not surprising as the major manufacturers only offer a “big ticket” lineup self-propelled sprayers.

Some 48% of growers had gone outside their major brand for precision farming systems, up from 32% in 2017.

Color is Losing Importance

Due to current low prices for many ag commodities, 54% of the farmers indicated they would consider other brands when buying new farm equipment today.

For most farmers, switching major line equipment colors is not an easy decision. Yet the reasons for switching are pretty straightforward and have changed little over the 10 years that these brand loyalty surveys have been conducted.

Through the history of these four brand loyalty studies, better parts availability and better product engineering have been the major reasons for considering a switch in brands.

“54% would consider other brands when buying new farm equipment today…”

With growers holding onto equipment for longer periods of time in the current depressed ag economy, better parts availability has taken on additional importance, moving up from second to first place during the past 3 years. This also makes it more important for farmers to be doing business with dealers who can effectively meet their parts and service needs.

In the Past 5 Years, Have You Purchased Products Not Manufactured by Your "Primary Brand"?
Equipment Category 2020
Tillage equipment 49%
Precision farming systems 48%
Sprayers  41%
Planter, drill 40%
Haying equipment 29%
Tractor 23%
Combine 12%
— Ag Equipment Intelligence Brand Loyalty surveys


The desire for lower equipment prices moved up two notches from the number five spot in the 2017 survey to the number three spot this year. Among farmers who added survey comments, pricing was mentioned more often than any other reason for switching brands.

While no-tillers may have many reasons for looking at new colors for equipment purchases, nothing is more critical than the relationship and confidence you have with local ag equipment dealers. After all, no piece of new equipment is a good buy if parts, service and  other essential needs can’t be handled on a local level.

Factors that Cause Farmers to Switch Ag Equipment Brands
  (% answering "yes")
Reason 2020
Better parts availability 96.3%
Better products engineering 95.7%
Lower equipment invoice price 94.3%
Better dealer repair, service 94.1%
Product specialist at dealership 92.1%
Better manufacturer warranty  88.2%
Bad experience with current dealership 84.5%
Equipment-uptime guarantee, loaner programs 83.5%
Bad experience with current brand 81.9%
Change in dealership owners or dealer location 71.9%
More attractive equipment financing 70.1%
Ability to consolidate equipment buying with one dealer 58.6%
— Ag Equipment Intelligence Brand Loyalty surveys