By Carissa Gingras
In an annual survey conducted in December 2012 of nearly 4,000 outdoor power equipment buyers, Briggs & Stratton Corporation released findings April 19 that provide a peek into what consumers look for in lawn and garden products. From engine and desired features, to preference for products made in the United States, as well as key learnings related to ethanol, results will help inform dealers of how to better educate and service customers based on their shopping preferences and overall needs.
Preferred features: Walk and ride mowers
Consumers agreed — easy-starting and durable/long-lasting — are the top two most critical features to look for when shopping for a walk or ride mower. With walk mowers especially, 72 percent of buyers look for easy-starting options. And with ride mowers, 80 percent of individuals want a product that’s built to last. Also high up on the check list — an easy-to-maintain engine.
Thoughts on: Fuel stabilizers and ethanol
Results indicate that more engaged consumers, those with more experience using and buying outdoor power equipment, agree it is important to protect their engine with a fuel treatment and stabilizer in order to prevent engine damage from ethanol-blended fuels. Specifically, 58 percent of recent buyers add treatment to their pressure washer, knowing ethanol problems can be particularly damaging to outdoor power equipment that isn’t used at least once or twice a week.
While outdoor power equipment owners are more aware than ever of the damage that can be caused by ethanol, even recent OPE buyers are becoming more educated. The highest concern lies with ride mower buyers at 45 percent. Others concerned about potential damage caused by ethanol include:
More than a third of walk mower buyers
43 percent of pressure washer buyers
40 percent of snow blower buyers
As the data shows, there is still a clear need — and value — in dealers providing consumers with digestible education on the negative impact of ethanol, as well as the significant benefit of using a proper fuel treatment that offers protection to the entire fuel system. And because ethanol damage is typically not covered under a manufacturer’s warranty, dealers can become a key resource for their customers in helping to prevent costly engine repair.
Attitudes toward: “Made in the U.S.A”
American manufacturing is a key cornerstone to our nation’s success, and consumers continue to demand, and value, goods produced in the U.S.A. Roughly 80 percent of American consumers are willing to pay a premium for American-made goods as compared to products manufactured in foreign countries such as China, according to a Forbes article (1). More surprising, 60 percent of Chinese consumers would also pay a premium for goods produced in the U.S.A. As “Economic Nationalism” continues to gain momentum among American consumers, it is no surprise this buying preference has penetrated the outdoor power equipment industry.
More than two out of three power equipment buyers prefer to buy products made in the U.S.A. Fifty-nine percent of walk mower buyers proactively look for products made in America, and 67 percent of consumers prefer to buy products that are American-made. Seventy percent of consumers in the market for an engine to power their ride mower actively look for products that are American-made, while 77 percent of consumers prefer to buy products made in America.
The “Made in the U.S.A. stamp of approval” will become a selling point with consumers. And, the iconic brands — brands with a rich heritage and years of doing business this way — will remain appealing to existing and potential customers. Dealers can work with their manufacturing partners to ensure this key benefit is emphasized effectively in various marketing materials.
Infographics courtesy of Briggs & Stratton Corporation’s Consumer Engine division.
(1) McCue, T.J. “Made in America Has a New Ring.”Forbes, 19 Nov. 2012. Accessed at http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2012/11/19/made-in-america-has-a-new-ring/
Carissa Gingras is marketing director of consumer engine and service with Briggs & Stratton Corporation. In her current role, she focuses on developing communications for dealers and consumers in the outdoor power equipment industry. She has more than 20 years of marketing experience working with both national and global companies, including General Electric, Honeywell, Ashley Furniture Homestores, Bridgestone/Firestone and Bon-Ton Department Stores.