Who Really Is Your Customer?
Growers may think they know consumers, but they won't truly know them until they start paying closer attention to them.
August 10, 2011
"Nature, which makes nothing durable, always repeats itself so that nothing which it makes may be lost." - Oscar Wilde
That quote takes me to a familiar place as I'm in flight heading home from Europe after a week visiting breeders, growers and others in conjunction with Flower Trials, which is the same as Spring Trials in California - this one is just the European edition. LJ Contillo, vice president of Costa Farms' color operations, and I travel here every year. We feel these trials offer up another opportunity for us to spend time with the same breeders we see in California.
But now on to this month's topic: Who is your customer? And why, of course, they matter. You must know your products cannot sell themselves unless someone is interested in them. So to say it's a smart idea to understand your end consumer would be an understatement.
As I travel the world in search of solutions and innovative ideas, it's been one of my goals to go into different retail establishments and see what they're selling in relation to ornamental live plants. One of my recent finds throughout Europe is that there are so many different likes and dislikes. Or, better written: the dismantling of true understanding from the end consumer's standpoint.
Get To Know Consumers
Throughout Europe, you see various flower colors and a number of plant genera that are potted up in different pot sizes and colors - ones not normally seen throughout the United States. You can travel from the Netherlands to France, which are separated by just a few hundred miles, and our products vary yet again in presentation and pot sizes, despite the items being of the same genus.
I also see huge differences in countries like Japan and Australia when it comes to flower colors, pot sizes and overall plant spec. I could talk for days about the different parts of our business that change from country to country, but my point is, do you really know your customer - that being the end consumer?
How do we - along with our retail customers - learn about the end consumer? I'm not sure there's a science behind this, but I do note that as a consensus, our business needs to better understand different traditions and beliefs, depending on where your customer is located. This is where packaging and presentation comes into direct correlation, and a number of influencers work here, including ethnic magazines, home décor stores and overall product performance.
You might find a simple change in your product packaging makes a huge difference. From my experience, I would say a very important thing to do is get out into the retail world and spend time observing your end consumer. It's also good to think about your product and the timing of its arrival to the retail shelf. You might find that your plant is a great genus, but it's landing on shelves at the wrong time. I also suggest getting with your retail customer and dissecting various consumer topics, because it shows you truly care about the end consumer.
While you would hope your plants speak for themselves, the bottom line is the success of what you produce depends on being sure you've grown, packaged and presented it with the end consumer in mind. So get out and learn more about your consumer, because producing what they want will entice them to purchase your product.
Here's to our next chat, which I hope is from home for a change.
Mike Rimland is the director of business development at Costa Farms. You can reach him at email@example.com.