Lay of the land: Nielsen's rural survey shines a light on farmers' media habits

  • Media
  • October 3, 2012
  • StopPress Team
Lay of the land: Nielsen's rural survey shines a light on farmers' media habits

The primary sector has played a massive role in propping up the New Zealand economy during this recessionary period and while farmers might not be tucking quite as much cash under their mattresses as they have been in recent years, they're still very lucrative targets, as evidenced by the massive number of companies greasing up to them at Fieldays. And now Nielsen has released results of its inaugural Nielsen Rural Survey to show how they can best be reached. 

The survey, which was produced in association with key rural publishers, provides insights of readership and media use by rural consumers and brings a rural facet to the existing readership currency in the media market. It was based on respondents from over 2,000 farms and the sample included a cross-section of beef, sheep, dairy, livestock, crop and horticulture farms, with the results showing farmers are using media in a way specific to their lifestyle—and with key differences when compared to the rest of the population.

“As a country with a rural heritage we’ve had theories about how the farming community use media but we now have the necessary data to both prove and dispel these hypotheses," says Kate Terry, director of consumer and media Insights at Nielsen. 

Rural newspapers and magazines are the preferred media for finding new information, with 81 percent of farmers saying that rural publications are best to find out what is new. Daily newspapers are the next most preferred medium for farmers to find out about what is new (53 percent), followed by television (45 percent).

Radio is the most popular media between 6am-9am, capturing 54 percent of the rural weekday audience. Radio is a medium that allows farmers to continue to work while they listen, it’s in multiple locations and most importantly it brings them key information which is relevant to their day ahead, such as news and the local weather report. 

Weekly rural titles are reaching 76 percent of New Zealand farmers and national dairy titles are read by 67 percent of large dairy farms.

When engaging with rural newspapers and magazines, a significant 91 percent of farmers say the publications help them find the latest products and services. Rural newspapers and magazines are rated ahead of all other media when searching for information and advice when purchasing products such as real estate, farm supplies, machinery and equipment.

There are significant peaks during the day when farmers read newspapers and magazine in comparison to non-rural national households. Spikes in readership occur between midday and four o’clock and again between six and eight o’clock in the evening for both rural and daily publications. 

“Running a farm requires working outside usual nine to five hours," says terry. "Having this understanding about behaviours and when different media is used throughout the day provides an opportunity for media and agencies to tailor services to the rural sector.” 

Given the pervading stereotypes and the ongoing moaning about rural connectivity, it's slightly surprising to learn that 86 percent of farmers have internet access, 78 percent of all farms have broadband and 64 percent use the internet at least daily. More than half of these have a wireless or satellite link, and these internet capabilities provide a tool to interact with the world as a modern business.

Farmers are also very mobile savvy, with the rural sector penetration and use slightly higher than the national population. The number of farmers using their mobiles to access the internet is also ahead of the national average.

Fairfax Media sent a release saying it reaches 89 percent of the farming community in a typical issue period (the past seven days for daily newspapers) with its rural portfolio, which includes the weekly Straight Furrow (reaches 67 percent of Kiwi farmers) and monthly publications AgTrader, The Dairyman (New Zealand's biggest dairy publication reaching 45 percent of dairy farmers), The Lifestyle Farmer, websites AgTrader.co.nz and straightfurrow.co.nz and the Central Districts Field Days, in addition to the rural pages in Fairfax Media daily newspapers and regional farming titles Waikato Times Farmer, Central Districts Farmer, Otago-Southland Farmer, South Island Farmer and Hawkes Bay Farming Scene.

Fairfax Media is currently recruiting a national rural editor to oversee and lead its rural content strategy. 

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