April 17, 2024

5 min


Find a market for your varieties and develop varieties for your markets

Success in the seed industry isn't left to chance: Selling varieties is all about market strategy. Sales director, Portfolio Manager or Product Developer, you know the fundamentals: developing agronomic traits to address specific demands, and cultivating robust relationships with consumers. But how do you deliver innovative solutions to farmers? What are the most lucrative markets?  

Figuring out what the seed market really wants can be cumbersome, particularly in this evolving period brought by climate changes. Did you know that most new crop varieties marketed just don't hit the spot for farmers, distributors, or consumers despite loads of money spent into breeding programs? How to limit new crop varieties ending up without addressing the targeted market?

Seed companies are under constant pressure to deliver varieties that perfectly fit to market demands. Even with the amazing breakthroughs in genetics and farming techniques, we are in a context of competition, climate change and volatility of consumer needs. Nowadays, getting a handle on what the market needs and then making sure the products fit those needs is still a pretty tough nut to crack for businesses.

Take it easy we are here to help: At Doriane we have been supporting success in seed companies for 40+ years. Here are the 3 most important steps for your varieties to reach Product-Market Fit: Understand what farmers, distributors, and consumers are after; Tips to make the crop varieties they need; Fancy tools to measure the efficiency of your variety development processes. Let’s dive into it now!

1.      Understanding Your Market

The foundation of any successful venture lies in a deep understanding of the target market. Local seed companies as well as multinational farming industry, investing time and resources into market understanding and description is essential. Identify the demographics, preferences, and pain points of your potential customers farmers and agrifood industries. What are their needs, cultivation ambitions or farming habits ? What environmental or industrial challenges do they face, and how can your products address them effectively?

Utilize a large scale of marketing methods, from surveys and panel groups to social media analytics and competitor analysis. By gathering comprehensive data, you can gain valuable insights into market trends, consumer behaviors, and competitive landscapes. This knowledge forms the bedrock upon which you can build your product development and marketing strategies.

In our world of crop development, environmental conditions can also largely impact the segmentation of your market. In addition to qualitative information on their markets, seed industries can also valorize qualitative information on the environment that will impacts decisions of species to grow, cultivations habits, and specific conditions encountered. Indeed market segmentation will be enriched with soil maps, weather information (e.g. to anticipate water limitation) and past experiences of crop sales.

To go further, you can introduce new factors with increasing impact: Environmental Impact such as water usage, soil health, and carbon footprint. By tracking and analyzing these metrics, seed companies can gain valuable insights into the performance, market acceptance and overall success of their seed varieties.

In fact the understanding of your market is just the 1st part of reaching the success of your crop varieties.

Marc Andreesen a successful American startup entrepreneur in Silicon Valley defined the Product-Market Fit as finding a good market with a product capable of satisfying that market with a price affordable and sharing values with the consumer. We believe that the success of your varieties is aligned with these ambitions

product market fit for varieties seed industry
Scheme of the Product-Market Fit that applies to variety development

To go further into the definition of markets you can structure the market demands into market segments with specific needs for each one. The next challenges will be to translate market segment needs into variety traits to reach.

🚀 Learn more on how to address a seed market with your varieties in this article : How to improve the success rate of the launch of my varieties ?

2. Tailoring Varieties to Meet Market Demand

Armed with insights from market analysis, the next step is to develop product varieties that resonate with your target audience. This involves more than simply offering a wide range of options; it requires a nuanced understanding of farmer or distributor preferences and a commitment to delivering value with notably innovation through breeding.

Consider the unique needs and preferences of different market segments. Are there niche markets that are currently underserved? Are there emerging trends or consumer preferences that you can capitalize ? By customizing your varieties to align with specific market demands, you can differentiate your offerings and carve out a distinct competitive advantage. This can also impact the decision to build new breeding programs (e.g. the use of chickpeas for gluten-free sour or hemp for building material).

In many cases fitting with market demands request innovation. In crop development, innovation takes time particularly as working on living material stewardship to market rules need investments. So taking into the risks of these investments, it is important to size the market targeted and challenge the competitor solutions available. The variety marketing success will be guaranteed only if your can valorize a return on investment (ROI).

tailoring market demand variety development find your market

Finally, this Product-Market Fit can be measured only if in the seed companies the staff head of markets can characterize the targets to achieve for each market segment. This constitutes the product design.

The solution proposed is to track product design alignment of the varieties under development and count the varieties whose identity cards match with their corresponding product designs. So you can track how close you are for each market segment to get a variety matching with market demands.

The product designs shall include all the diversity of traits like:

- Yield Performance: compare the yield of their varieties against existing varieties or industry standards to determine their performance in different growing conditions.

- Resistance to Pests and Diseases: for ensuring the durability and reliability of a seed variety and reducing the need for chemical inputs and enhancing crop health.

- Quality Traits: that depends on the crop such as uniformity, appearance, taste, and nutritional value are important considerations for both growers and consumers and will indicate its success in meeting market demands and consumer preferences.

All these traits are compared over multiple locations within the geographical areas of the market segment. It gives a value of the variety adaptability. The varieties that demonstrate consistent performance and resilience in diverse environments are more likely to be successful.

📢 On this topic, don't miss our next webinar Variety-Market Fit : Tips for successful variety launches

Comparing varieties performances and Product-Market Fit index
Comparing varieties performances and Product-Market Fit index

The full alignment of the varieties with market objectives should secure its market launch and guarantee a product market fit.

In many cases the targeted markets are not virgin of solutions available (otherwise it can be a game changer solution or a high risky market 😊). So all the characteristics of on-going development varieties can be compared with competitors to overcome for each market segment. It can be a high valuable KPI to track. Like for example an index that combines performance measurement (e.g. in % of the standard of the market, or in absolute value…) on a list of traits. The tracking of this index on all the varieties in development on all the market segments targeted will give clues on performance and secure variety launches.

Once you are confident on the good alignment of your varieties with what your market segments expects, it is important to ensure that the value created really find the farmers. This is were building strong connection with final consumers is important and that can bring competitor advantages.

3. Forging Strong Connections with Consumers

Beyond offering high-quality products, you strive to create meaningful experiences that resonate with your target audience on a deeper level. This could involve leveraging storytelling to convey the unique origin or craftsmanship behind your varieties, or engaging with customers through interactive events or social media platforms.

Transparency and authenticity are also key factors in fostering consumer trust and loyalty that will be be proud of sharing value with their providers. In that context we can understand that seed companies are strongly involved in transparency about sourcing practices, production methods, sustainability initiatives, and ethics commitment. Building strong commitment can also come with a good accompaniment of the input provider with the farmer or combined expertise offered with the seed variety delivered.

More and more seed companies bring added value to their seeds with for example digital services or cultivation recommendations. This accompaniment become even more important for the commitment of farmers if they need to face with new challenges of restrictions of water use or chemical products and if they would like to change their practices to agro-ecological protocols.

We recommend to embrace feedback as a valuable tool for continuous improvement. Actively solicit input from your customers, whether through surveys, reviews, or direct communication channels. Pay attention to their preferences, suggestions, and concerns, and use this information to refine your varieties and enhance the overall customer experience. The Net Promoter Score is in that case an efficient KPI to track to measure customer satisfaction. Based on simple comments and notes, the NPS measures satisfaction and provides insights on Market Acceptance and Adoption.

💡 Check how to measure Net Promoter Score in our e-book Maximizing Growth: 10 KPIs for Product Development in the Seed Industry.

variety market product net promoter score
Calculating the Net Promoter Score


In the dynamic world of business, success hinges on more than just having a great product—it requires a strategic approach to understanding market dynamics, tailoring offerings to meet specific needs, and building strong connections with consumers. By investing in comprehensive market analysis and segmentation enriched with qualitative environmental information, developing varieties to align with market demand, and fostering meaningful relationships with customers, you can position your brand for long-term growth and sustainability. Remember, finding your market and developing varieties for your markets isn't just a formula for success—it's a blueprint for building a thriving business and responding to global challenges.

Tristan Duminil

Head of Agronomy

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Tips for successful variety launches

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