Industry insights: the evolving marketplace

The latest innovations in the outdoor power equipment industry are not only seen in the products themselves, or even in manufacturing techniques. As Elliot Thompson, Sales and marketing Manager at Greenfield Mowers points out, the latest innovation is seen in the way the products are brought to market.

When you talk about innovation, it is easy to jump straight to your product line. Product development is something that has changed dramatically over the years; with the exception of steering wheel operated ZTR products, current innovations don’t seem to be performance orientated, but more cosmetic enhancements such as USB charging ports, LED head lights, and cruise control. These are all things that offer little to no real performance, but instead enhance the customer’s perceived value of the product.

It would, of course, be remiss to not mention the advent of battery technology within the industry. All major hand-held manufacturers are promoting battery technology as the way of the future, and the automotive industry is also embracing battery-operated technology in its product development. It is an innovation that will eventually become common place for ride-on type products.

Although in the early stages of development, battery technology is evolving rapidly. At Greenfield, we are taking an active interest in battery development and it is our intention to offer a range of battery-powered ride on mowers in the future.

However, a shift has occurred in the innovation sector of our industry, focusing on how and where we present, rather than what we have to offer the market as a product line. In a market where competitors are so closely matched, it is imperative to search for your point of difference in order to distinguish yourself in the market. It is no longer just about what you sell, but equally as important is how you sell it.

The power equipment industry was once a traditional marketplace requiring customers to visit their local dealer, where the relationship a customer had with a supplier was equally as important as the product itself.

These days, decisions are made with the swipe of a finger, not in the store. Customers can visit a number of dealers for the same product in minutes. Dealers rarely even get to talk to customers until the decision has been made and they are ready to make the transaction. Understanding that when customers search for a solution online, they do not want to just know about your product, they want to know if you have the information that can help solve or fix their problem. It is now imperative to reinvent our companies and our industry, creating innovative plans to ensure we meet our demographic in the places they will be looking for us.

A vibrant and streamlined website is one of the best tools to bring customers from your online shop front into your bricks and mortar store. Greenfields see a major opportunity for power equipment specialists to focus more on their online presence than ever before. A good, functional, interactive and regularly updated website is like having a second store operating 24 hours a day. Alongside this is a social presence: one of the biggest business innovations of the 21st century. Interacting with your customers in an online environment is one of the most effective ways to drive people to you and develop a product persona.

These days it is vital that a company not only have a digital presence but be innovative and different in order to outshine or out perform the competition.

The Gen Y market is growing in our industry. This demographic is time poor and uses eCommerce as a research tool before committing to purchase. A well thought out and informative website is the key to informing the customer not only about the products, but the service you provide.

I am not a pure marketer; I have a solid history in sales. My involvement in the industry goes back to 1988. Many things have changed during my time, and many brands have come and gone. Nearly every dealer conducted on site demonstrations to highlight the performance of the product and win the sale based on features, and most importantly performance in the grass.

Just like our clients, we are also time poor. Many dealers do not offer a demo service to the potential buyer. This makes it imperative that when you have the customer’s attention, you have the product knowledge to win the sale. With the advent of eCommerce marketing, potential buyers are far more educated than we think. It is vital that all staff be knowledgeable on the products they are selling. Buyers want the facts. If you are not prepared with answers based on solid product knowledge it is more than likely the buyer will falter in their decision to purchase.

Over the past 18 months, Greenfield has been recreating its image, focusing heavily on its online presence by implementing social media awareness campaigns in order to stay in the game amidst some heavy competition. We see this as a valuable commodity in growing our brand and our enviable reputation as an iconic Australian made ride-on lawn mower, built to handle the tough conditions that Australians expect to mow.

Our industry is faced with a plethora of imported brands. As an Australian manufacturer we are constantly faced with the fact that we are more expensive due to the cost of producing our products on home soil. We pride ourselves on the fact that more than 60 per cent of a Greenfield product is produced with parts that are sourced in Australia. We use this as our market offering and point of difference to our end users.

One constant when discussing products out in the field with the buyer is the comment from a farmer that “I used to have an old Australian made mower, it just kept going.” We are finding many rural buyers have made the switch to a more price-friendly imported product and are now coming back to a machine that they feel is more suited to the job they need it to do. There is a place for all brands in the market; we need to be able to meet the needs and demands of all of our customers.

With downsizing of suburban lots, city acreage is disappearing. Battery-powered, low-emission, space-proportionate equipment has quickly enveloped the suburban market, offering the convenience required for city living. When looking at our market and deciding on where to develop our business and our product lines, we believe the future of Greenfield is in the rural market.

It would be fair to say that Greenfield, through history, has been a traditional, old school manufacturer and we are proud to be so. We market the performance of our product and the fact it can handle all conditions. This is still a strong part of our DNA when it comes to the engineering principals of the product. One thing we have learned is we need to embrace the technology that is available to us not only in a production world but more importantly, the marketing space that we operate within.

Greenfield is firmly focused on marketing to the end user. We know the end user wants to buy a quality, performance-derived machine. We see it is our role to highlight and introduce buyers to the iconic performance of a Greenfield using both traditional and eCommerce marketing tools available to us.

Elliot Thompson
Sales and Marketing Manager, Greenfield Mowers