AGRICULTURAL COMMUNITY THOUGHT LEADERS COMMENT ON NEW DUPONT PIONEER NAME
Jun. 28, 2012
Source: Agri Marketing magazine
Yesterday, DuPont announced it was changing the name of its seed unit from Pioneer Hi-Bred to DuPont Pioneer.
We sent a request to agricultural thought leaders about what they thought of the change. Here are their responses:
Iowa Professional Farm Manager:
I think the name change is positive. The Pioneer Hi-Bred name was outdated. Pioneer is a lot more than "Hi-Bred" [corn breeding]. They have a full line of seed products and technology. Most everyone has been aware that Pioneer was owned by DuPont so the name change seems a natural and a good fit.
Kansas Independent Crop Consultant:
I think this may actually be a good thing. Both companies have a lot of respect in the agricultural community, but it seems like the companies have struggled over the past few years in coming together and being identified as being a part of each other. Maybe this name change will help the companies to move forward with a common goal of supporting each other.
Nebraska Professional Farm Manager
I don't know that changing the name is going to provide any significant benefit to the company. In fact, in some sectors it could hurt as Pioneer is viewed by many as a more producer oriented company and less corporate. Adding in the larger corporate name will cloud that connection some, in my opinion. Taking a more pragmatic view, I can understand the desire to tie the Pioneer brand more closely to Dupont to hopefully bring additional recognition to both companies. Hopefully it signals an increase in research and development for Pioneer going forward.
Iowa Crop Input Retailer:
We view this as a very risky marketing tactic. Pioneer is a trusted brand with strong market share and customer loyalty. If their field performance is any less than stellar, the customer is likely to perceive they changed more than just the name and logo. We project they are going to stumble with this move and it will cost them significant market share.
Illinois Professional Farm Manager:
Pioneer's name change is "interesting" - If the change gives them more receptivity to non production Agricultural contacts, then it may be beneficial. The impact upon sales to Farmers in the U.S. is likely not significant and may just get a comment or two that compares them to Monsanto. Farmer's perception of Monsanto is not highly favorable even though farmers admit and use the very good Monsanto products. Farmers relate more favorably to the Brand names like DeKalb, Asgrow and Pioneer than the larger Corporate Ownership.
Missouri Business Consultant to seed and crop protection companies:
I think the name change is a mistake. The name Pioneer (like John Deere) epitomizes U.S. agriculture, signifies quality and top performance and carries a certain nostalgia. U.S. producers are proud to plant Pioneer Hi-Bred. DuPont is, by their own definition, a chemical company and that industry is already suspect in the eyes of the consumer.
Nebraska Professional Farm Manager:
Dupont has been very prominent on most, if not all, Pioneer promotional material for several years. For most farmer customers I'm not sure the change will have much impact. Most will view the change as a move to market their production "System" of seed and chemicals.
Louisiana Independent Crop Consultant:
I think the name change is a good idea. Not everyone knows of the relationship with Dupont/Pioneer but they will now. Both have quality products and quality sales and tech staffs, therefore it makes not sense to keep them separate unless, of course, some type of corporate reasons would be favorable for them to do so. Pioneer has the best field staff of all the seed companies in our area. They cover the area very well and offer great service on their crop varieties and keep consultants well-informed of test results, variety availability, etc and also give us the chance to view the newer varieties before they are sent to the farmers in large quantities. It gives consultants a chance to learn how to manage certain varieties before they enter the market. Nothing beats this heads up experience.
Dupont has an excellent product line of quality products, too, keeps consultants informed of shortages, label changes, etc and also the tech service and sales folks give us the opportunity to "play" with the new formulations or products before they are sold on the market. They handle field issues with their products equally as well as Pioneer.
I just hope that the staffs are kept separate and not try to make a seed rep out of a chem rep, but especially vice versa. Hard to change a seed rep into an ag chem rep.
The staffs currently support each other very well.
I like the "Dupont Pioneer" name rather than coming up with some off the wall new name that those in agriculture would have to learn to associate with the quality we currently expect from both Dupont and Pioneer.
Retired seed corn/crop protection company executive:
DuPont brand has "chemical" equity; Pioneer brand has "seed" equity. Not clear to me there is a synergy to be gained - but branding is a long term investment that is built on the customer experience one day at a time, one customer at a time, and not by an advertising campaign.
Iowa Professional Farm Manager
The Pioneer name has a great tradition associated with it. DuPont has contributed many resources to grow the research and development portion of the business. Re-branding today is a constant.
Agricultural newsletter Publisher:
I don't see many negatives to the branding change since DuPont has owned Pioneer for such a long time. I can certainly understand why DuPont is bringing the brands together going forward as they market internationally and move into more aspects of the food business.
The opening page of the DuPont web site provides plenty of insight - SCIENCE-POWERED INNOVATION, See how feeding 7+ billion people requires a healthy appetite for collaboration is the headline over a photo of produce being gathered in a foreign country. This is a different DuPont than we knew 10, 15 or 20 years ago.
Agricultural trade association executive:
• Pioneer fought the GMO technology so long that when they switched they had already hurt their credibility.
• DuPont tried to blend the chemical sales force and it was a huge failure because it was fought by the agronomy seed guys.
*Syngenta is currently in the process of blending the two sales groups and I bet they make it.
• Pioneer has always felt they had the best genetics and even when it was evident they were behind they wouldn't change.
• A couple of years ago some people thought that Monsanto seed prices had hit a ceiling, Pioneer gained share, but technology always wins.
Business Consultant to crop protection and seed companies:
"DuPont Pioneer" - certainly not a surprise and definitely good corporately for Life Science focused DuPont. In production ag, it is well known that Pioneer has been a DuPont company for some time.
However, the Pioneer brand is definitely a stronger one than the DuPont brand. Strong brands have value.
My general feeling is that this rebranding will cost more to implement than it is worth.
I would have kept the Pioneer brand with the subtitle below of "A DuPont Company".
Agricultural Trade Association Executive:
I keep getting hung up at "Huh?"
I fail to see how this adds value at the customer level - maybe geared toward Wall Street instead?