Product Knowledge for Crop Protection Retailers – How Important Is It?

How much do retailers need to know about a crop protection product to feel comfortable recommending it to their farm customers? Will they recommend a product based on its reputation, or do they need to know its strengths, weaknesses, and technical details?

In the summer of 2019, Stratus completed a series of surveys with US Ag retailers. The study is called “Retailer Advocacy”. One of the markets studied was the pre-emergent herbicide market in corn, a market that is characterized by many competing products but with a couple of clear market leaders.  The study examined the corn herbicides that retailers were recommending to their customers, the reasons they chose to recommend those products and the reasons for not selling other products.

In one question, we asked retailers to tell us how much they know about each product that they sell.  On average, 47% of retailers said that they know a lot about those products.  We then looked at the connection between the level of product knowledge and willingness to recommend - the chart below illustrates the impact.  Not unexpectedly, very few retailers (just 21%) with limited knowledge of a product will recommend that product.  But moving a retailer from knowing quite a bit about a product to knowing a lot had a significant impact on their willingness to recommend that product.

In another question, we asked retailers if the manufacturer of the products they sell provided them with a product knowledge training session.  On average, just under 70% of the time, the answer was yes.  We then examined the difference in willingness to recommend a product among those retailers with product knowledge training versus those without.  The chart below illustrates the average difference.

There is no doubt that product knowledge is critical for retailers to recommend a product.  They need a clear understanding of the product’s strengths and weaknesses.  But product knowledge is not the only factor.  The Retailer Advocacy study clarifies the role that 34 different factors play in driving retailer support.

In 2020, Stratus will continue to conduct the Retailer Advocacy study in major crop protection markets in the Mid-West region of the US. The findings will help the companies who purchase this study know what they need to do to maximize the support they get from the retail channel.  

For more information about the Retailer Advocacy study, contact: