Farmers Want Value For Their Money
Most farmers in Western Canada prefer original Crop Protection brands over generics, but it comes down to value for money.
In the fall of 2018, Stratus interviewed over 700 farmers from Western Canada for the Generic Crop Protection Use & Attitude report. The participating farmers averaged 3,500 acres. 75% were grain farms, 20% were mixed grain/livestock operations and 5% were Hutterite colonies.
More than twice as many farmers prefer original Crop Protection brands compared to those who prefer generics.
It’s not surprising that farmers say that generic brands have the edge when it comes to offering good value for money and low price. But original brands are viewed as better for everything else, especially agronomic support, product warranty and attractive programs. If they have a question about the product, farmers know they can get answers from the original brand manufacturer. And farmers have more confidence that the manufacturer of the original brand will stand behind the product if anything goes wrong with it. They also expect the original manufacturer to have more expertise, so they are less likely to have quality problems and they will know more about it how it works.
When making decisions to use a generic or the original brand, value for money spent has three times more influence on the decision than low price. Farmers want more than just a cheap product. A multitude of other factors go into the decision that, collectively define value for money. It is about the product AND all those other factors wrapped around it, such as product quality, the reputation of the manufacturer, product performance and agronomic support also contribute to the decision.
Few farmers will even consider a generic product if the price gap versus the original brand is <10%. But if the gap gets to 20% or more, a lot of farmers will take a closer look at the generic option.
Farmers who prefer generic brands tend to be smaller farms, and more often located in the brown soil zone where profit margins might be tighter. They have less contact with original brand manufacturers, and they do not participate in original manufacturer programs to the same extent as those who prefer original brands.
As original brand manufacturers think about ways to defend their off-patent business against generic products, they need to remember that farmers make decisions based on perceived value. And that’s what they need to deliver.