McKinsey surveyed more than 800 row and specialty crop farmers across the United States over the past several months as a follow-up to our 2018 study. We talked with farmers, owners, and field managers, including those with large operations as well as those with just a few hundred acres.
What we learned is that farmers are increasingly interacting and buying online, but they’ll need higher-quality and more personalized interactions to keep doing so. Winning agriculture companies will engage online early and sustain engagement across the buying journey through digital and physical channels.
Digital engagement is well rooted and the preferred means for many
Farmers’ comfort with digital channels has grown markedly since 2018. Roughly 50 percent say they are willing to buy agricultural products online and twice the number of farmers prefer online when repurchasing familiar items.
Two-thirds of farmers also use the web and their mobile devices for research and planning—compared to less than half who said the same two years ago. And more than 50 percent prefer digital channels when evaluating products—up from roughly one-third in 2018.
Leading agriculture suppliers will focus on three imperatives:
- Increase grower engagement through digital channels by addressing persistent pain points
- Spur online purchases and trust through personalized experiences that delight the grower
- Recognize the crucial interplay between online and offline channels across the grower buying journey and optimize touchpoints accordingly
Suppliers that embrace these imperatives will cultivate stronger and more enduring grower relationships, and gain clear advantage in a more competitive playing field.