What can agribusiness learn from Lady Gaga?

Whether you love or hate her music and politics, there’s no denying that Lady Gaga has built a successful and profitable personal brand. And she’s done so by attracting and retaining a loyal fan base. Could agribusiness take this approach?

October 8, 2014

Some of you might be questioning the link between a celebrated pop star and the business of agriculture.  There is a connection, though. When it comes to turning followers into fanatics, there’s no doubt that Lady Gaga is a true success story. Advocacy pays dividends, and believe it or not, following Lady Gaga’s lead makes good business sense.

Whether you love or hate her music and politics, there’s no denying that Lady Gaga has built a successful and profitable personal brand. And she’s done so by attracting and retaining a loyal fan base.  Could agribusiness take this approach? 

In her book, Monster Loyalty, author Jackie Huba breaks down lessons that businesses – no matter which industry they belong to – can learn from Lady Gaga.  Huba talks about loyalty and the success that Gaga has achieved by focusing on her core advocates. “Advocates,” says Huba, “will ultimately be evangelists who bring in new customers on their own.”

The same theory can be applied to agriculture. Ask yourself this: What impact can loyal customers have on agribusiness? Can agribusinesses be successful by focusing on their existing customers?  Recent research reveals that they can.

In a recent survey, Stratus Ag Research asked 1,100 Canadian farmers to share perceptions of their local ag retailer. Not surprisingly, survey results reveal that loyal customers do a greater share of business with those companies to whom they are loyal. For example, in Eastern Canada, the share of total crop input expenditures earned by retailers from customers who state they are loyal to said retailer is almost twice as high as those customers who state they are not loyal. Under the same circumstances, share of crop input expenditures is 1.75 times higher with loyal customers in Western Canada. 

“Not all retailers are alike when it comes to securing loyalty,” says Krista MacLean, Project Manager with Stratus Ag Research. In Western Canada, 59 percent of Company A’s customers are loyal to said organization, whereas just over one quarter of Company B’s customer base are loyal.

The real story is the impact those loyal customers can have on the acquisition of new customers. On a scale of one to ten, farmers were asked how willing they’d be to recommend each retailer. In this case, 10 meant they definitely would recommend a retailer, whereas 1 means they definitely would not. The results are clear.

The above chart depicts the percentage of customers who are considered “promoters” of their crop input retailer; promoters are defined as those who rated a 9 or a 10.

“Loyal customers are willing to advocate on behalf of their business partners,” says MacLean. “And that will pay dividends in the long run… just as it has for Lady Gaga.”


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