Never try to sell a Chinese farmer a green tractor or roll out a flashy new design with a rounded hood in India.
These are just some of the lessons that Agco Corp Chief Executive Martin Richenhagen has picked up in his 15 years selling farm equipment around the world.
The Duluth, Georgia-based company has an as-yet small presence in China, but Richenhagen believes the world’s No 3 maker of tractors, combines and other farm equipment has one big advantage versus world No. 1 Deere & Co when it comes to cracking open that market. Around the world, Deere’s wide range of farm machines stand out for their bright green hoods.
“We have a competitive advantage compared to some of our colleagues,” Richenhagen said at the Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit in Chicago.
“Green is a very bad color in China.”
Specifically, green is associated with adultery — wearing a green hat is a way a man could signal that his wife had cheated on him.
In India, the company recently replaced an aging model of tractor that featured a square hood with a new model with a stylish curved hood. The new model failed to sell.
Why? Most tractors in India run 24 hours a day, but spend only about a third of the time doing actual farm work. Away from the fields, they are pressed into service as passenger vehicles.
“A square hood is a very good feature to have on an Indian tractor, because it can sit more people than a round hood,” Richenhagen said.