Agricultural large commercial producers in Argentina and the United States of America: A comparative study
The study of farmers' purchasing behaviors is pervasive in the U.S., but very little is known about Argentine corn and soybean large commercial producers and their buying behaviors. The main objectives of this research were to: (i) describe the production, social and economic factors that determine agricultural market structure in Argentina and the U.S.; (ii) compare and contrast the U.S. and Argentine producers to better understand behaviors and preferences for inputs, and (iii) to segment producers of each country, using cluster analysis, according to their buying behaviors for financial services, capital and expendable goods. ^ Data for the analyses come from the 2008 Large Commercial Producer Survey conducted by the Center of Food and Agribusiness at Purdue University, and a similar survey carried out by the Center for Food and Agribusiness at Austral University in Rosario, Argentina. A total of 561 U.S. and 506 producers observations were compared and contrasted. Cross tabulations and Pearson's Chi Square tests were carried-out to identify statistically significant differences across respondents within the country. T-tests analysis was done to identify differences across-countries. ^ Results showed that Argentines buying behaviors differ from U.S. producers in ways that reflect the uncertainties regarding the socioeconomic policies and the weak financing system in Argentina. The dynamic U.S. market place with strong government support and financial credit systems have contributed to producers financial stability and escalating demands for price, performance and service from their suppliers. Comparative results between countries proved differences between Argentine and U.S. producers regarding their future farm operating plans; Argentines are more likely to outsource services and knowledge than U.S. farmers. The one exception is the hiring of fertilizer services by U.S. farmers. Moreover, most of the respondents in both countries were the primary decision-makers with similar average educational levels. ^ The Argentine respondents showed higher loyalty to both product brands and local dealers than their U.S. counterparts. In addition, Argentines were willing to pay higher prices for better product performance than US producers. The latter looked for better prices of expendable items and would increase the use of generic products. U.S. farmers considered themselves loyal to financial services, regardless of loan rater, this was opposite for Argentines. With respect to capital equipment suppliers, Argentine producers matched U.S. producers' loyalty. Producers from both countries found local salespeople as the most useful source of information and valued their level of technical competence. ^ From a behavioral segmentation point of view, Argentine producers clustered into buying segments with clear preferences for a particular attributes in equal proportions across Performance, Price and Service attributes. As for the U.S. buyers approximately 60% of buyers clustered into a segment noted as a Balance segment because there was equal preference indicated for price, performance and service. ^ The results indicate that successful input agribusinesses in Argentina should understand their core customer group to determine if their strategy should focus on the performance of their products, the relative price of their products or their customer service. However, the results show that access to capital is a critical issue in Argentina and financial companies as well as input suppliers that pursue strategies to provide capital at a reasonable cost may be able to enhance their market share. Agribusinesses in the U.S. will have to be creative in their marketing messages to differentiate themselves in producers' minds since the expectations for delivery across all three major attributes is an expectation among this group of producers.^
Allan Gray, Purdue University.