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Source: blog by Margy Eckelkamp as it appeared in The Scoop magazine

The intersection of rebates, marketing strategies, data-driven programs, financing and early order incentives is becoming more entangled. Welcome to the spaghetti junction in ag retail.

Roads To Customer Loyalty

Two years ago, Bayer launched Bayer Plus Rewards. It now has more than 1,000 users in the retail portal.

"The program increased our crop protection footprint," says Kim Helgen, Bayer Plus lead with Bayer Crop Science. "We've learned a lot about sales reporting. We are working towards improving the process for 2021."

Unlike Roundup Ready Plus, Bayer Plus Rewards introduced a farmer portal.

"The goal is to give visibility to the grower but not by any means replace the retailer in the process," Helgen says.

The program has partners such as Valent USA.

"We see value in rebate programs to support an agronomic recommendation, create demand and bring awareness to our products," says Joe Short, Valent herbicide product strategy team manager.

What Do Rebates Do For Retail

"The future of rebates is to be less rebate-like and more aligned with upfront savings," says Ted Nuss, Corteva Agriscience TruChoice experience manager.

As relays Katie Stutsman, Corteva Agriscience crop protection district sales leader, TruChoice brings agronomic solutions with upfront savings and has increased demand running through retail.

There's No One Size Fits All

"We have the FMC Freedom Pass because as a basic manufacturer, we want to engage with growers at some level so that we (FMC) know what their needs are and make sure they are knowledgeable of what tools we're offering them," says Roxie Gutschenritter, division market manager for FMC.

FMC Freedom Pass launched six years ago as a direct payment tool for purchasing FMC products.

Departure From 'Traditional'

"The industry has put such an emphasis on rebates in the last three to five years," says Robbie Upton, marketing director for BASF, U.S. crop business.

In 2020, BASF launched Rewards Beyond Rebates, which Upton explains is an approach to the market, not a program.

"It's a dramatically different approach to what others offer. Growers don't get a rebate check. Products are priced transparently, and farmers can view its competitive advantage; value is captured in the performance of the product," Upton says. "We've had grower programs in the past. But we were ahead of the curve on listening and thinking about the future to realize there are different ways to do things."

Data-Driven Programs Have Arrived

Last year, Syngenta introduced AgriClime, which is a risk mitigation offer providing for a potential partial return on investment. As explains Shane Taylor, the marketing manager for digital ag solutions at Syngenta, the goal is to shift from talking about cost to emphasizing the best agronomic recommendation and confidence in the decision.

"This is specific to an adverse weather condition. Then, it triggers a potential opportunity for the grower to get a return as part of their initial purchases. If growers have incredible yields, it doesn't change the program. We don't take an upside opportunity," Taylor says.

To view company-by-company programs click here.

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