Monday, 18 March 2013 09:54

The changing face of farming

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The old image of farmers being dyed in the wool consumers of traditional media, late adopters of digital technology and low users of social media has been blown apart by a major piece of research commissioned by Waikato/Bay of Plenty based agency, King St.

The research involved 759 farmers – 314 dairy and 346 dry stock – participating in a 15-minute phone survey conducted by independent research firm, Versus Research, on behalf of King St and some of the agency's rural clients.

The comprehensive study provides a full picture of farmers' media habits. "It's the largest study of its kind to be conducted and provides some extremely valuable information, along with some fresh insights", says King St chief executive, Chris Williams.

"If you think farmers are behind the times as an audience, you need to think again. Radio, TV and print are still going strong but it's in digital media where we saw some big moves, particularly with the under 40s," says Williams. "And rather than being behind, they are ahead in some instances."

The big three traditional areas of TV, radio and print are still very highly used across all segments:

- 95% watch TV daily
- 87% read the newspaper daily
- They all read the rural publications; all have a weekly repertoire
- 82% listen to the radio daily

But a close look at the findings reveals a changing landscape and the emergence of a smart, digitally savvy, connected audience with a wide media repertoire and hunger for knowledge and information, reflecting their 24/7 work life.

Some of the digital numbers include:

- 95% have some form of digital TV
- 72% have SKY TV (compared to 49% for the rest of the country)
- 92% have internet access – 73 % have a high speed connection
- 55% belong to a social networking community
- 70% read the news online daily

These numbers apply to the total sample. But by drawing a line at the aged 40 mark, you get a clear picture of what the future holds for rural marketers.

The following  highlights some of this:
Under 40's, 40-60

5+hours radio/day 24%, 13%

Don't read newspaper 24%, 10%

Get news online 44%, 24%

Online 1-5 hours per day 42%, 20%

Belong to Facebook 56%, 35%

Trademe Community 23%, 16%

Smartphone Ownership 45%, 26%

All the data is broken out by age, region farm type and gender. "It's great to be able to gain a full picture of what farmers are up to," says Williams.

"And while the overall numbers are going to be very helpful, the real story is that anyone who is talking to farmers needs to be aware that it's a "game of two halves" so to speak. The under 40's are a completely different kettle of fish to their older counterparts and will only continue to change over time."

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