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A major lubricant brand was on an aggressive innovation growth path and had identified several potential new product concepts targeting the farm segment. Qualitative research was needed to gain reactions to these concepts, to understand which ones merited additional attention to develop further. The objectives of the research were to:

  • Understand the lubricant needs and pain-points of farmers, 
  • Learn which concepts and ideas solved real problems in unique and compelling ways, and 
  • Assess how the concepts could be optimized to be credible, meaningful, unique, and disruptive in a positive way.

Normally, showing new product concepts would dictate leveraging a controlled environment, such as a focus group facility. In this case it was important to understand the context of farmers’ lubricant needs, the machinery they routinely use, and the pain-points they experience in lubricating combines, tractors, etc.
The challenge then was to engage farmers in an environment where their sensitivities toward their machinery and lubricant needs would be heightened, to have a real sense of these needs and the degree to which the new product concepts could begin to address these needs—in the real world.


The research revealed that the lubricant category has, historically, overpromised in their claims and, as such, farmers approached the concepts with a healthy dose of skepticism. Time out-of-field is less money for farmers, so saving time (and effort) was a key driver of appeal across all concepts and ideas. Products that promote dual or multiple benefits are subject to greater scrutiny and skepticism, as farmers question the efficacy of these products (“too good to be true”). The research demonstrated that the brand had a high degree of expandability into new product segments—but there were limits where the brand’s experience and credibility were questioned by farmers. 

The net result was that five compelling concepts were identified and optimized to move into quantitative testing.


The C+R research team and their clients attended one of the largest farming shows in the country, the Nebraska Farming Power Show. Twenty farmer-respondents were intercepted at the clients’ booth and asked to participate in an in-depth-interview (IDIs) at the show. Farmers were asked to articulate problem areas, pain-points, and unmet needs around cleaning, lubricating, and protecting farming machinery and working components. They highlighted these problem areas by showing us chains, joints, and couplings on existing machinery at the show. They were then shown new product concepts or ideas that corresponded to these problem areas, and asked for their reactions, including appeal, relevance/usage, differentiation, brand fit, and optimization. These in-context IDI’s gave us richer insights and feedback than we would have generated in a sterile traditional focus group facility.