When it comes to innovation, customers rank John Deere ahead of such major technology companies as Google and Facebook. That was the finding of a research project of the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University and the Norwegian School of Economics.
The research also credited John Deere for its efforts in citizenship, ranking the company number one in what it termed “social innovation.”
The outcome of the research is the American Innovation Index, the first ever survey in the U.S. measuring company innovativeness based on customers’ experiences doing business with them. The index looked at customer-focused innovation by determining how customers perceive a company based on creativity, innovation, and providing value to customers.
The study also examined the work that companies perform in the area of social innovation, which the researchers described as work that “primarily benefits society rather than specific individuals or organizations.” In this category, Deere earned the number one ranking ahead of Toyota, Ford, USAA, and Honda.
Deere ranked seventh overall in the Innovation Index and first in the Consumer Durables and Heavy Equipment category. Apple, Amazon, and IKEA were the top three overall companies. The index studied 150 companies in more than 20 industries. A market summary report was released to share the findings.
“The survey is a representative sample of U.S. consumers, balanced to match the census,” said Lerzan Aksoy, a professor of marketing at Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business. “We have 34,460 touchpoints. Only companies which the respondents were personally involved in purchasing or using the product were included.”
“Each day, John Deere employees working in research and development are focused on technology breakthroughs that benefit the customer,” said Dr. Klaus Hoehn, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Engineering. “It is certainly great news to see those efforts recognized.”
Social Innovation is Key
Askoy said the concept of a socially innovative company is something firms are increasingly embracing. “It’s not just about giving to charity; it’s about changing the DNA of your organization and the way that people think about these problems. That’s another very important lesson to be learned from this sort of an index,” she said
“We feel so strongly about being a good corporate citizen or a Power for Good, that our corporate strategy cites civic and environmental stewardship as a factor critical to John Deere’s success,” said Sam Allen, Chairman and CEO, Deere & Company, in company’s 2018 citizenship and sustainability report.
Aksoy said while the overall survey did include 43 percent of individuals living in rural settings, the innovation index did not show any differences between rural and urban customers for Deere.
“John Deere is as innovative in rural America as it is in the inner city and suburbs,” she said.
The research was conducted by Rockbridge Associates, a market research firm in Great Falls, Virginia.