Solving The Marketing Mystery
Marketing companies share their tips for differentiating your products from all the rest.
June 19, 2008
Greenhouse Grower asked several label, tag and marketing companies their thoughts on what it takes for growers to get attention for their products, both from retailers and consumers. Here's what they said:
Finding The Trends
by Bob Lovejoy
Horticultural Identification Products
Horticultural Identification Products (HIP) is proud to be the supplier of three environmentally-conscious horticultural tags — Repel, EcoTag and BioTag. As a marketing innovator, HIP is at the forefront of the "green" revolution in the Green Industry. We identified a need for environmentally friendly packaging
Repel is an innovative paper substrate containing 30 percent post-consumer waste, making it an environmentally responsible choice. The Repel product exceeds expectations of traditional paper labels by resisting curling and fading when exposed to water and sunlight. Compared to traditional, high-density polyethylene substrates, the Repel product with post-consumer content reduces the energy inputs of trees, water and fuel, while reducing the waste outputs of solid waste, wastewater and air pollutants.
EcoTag is a degradable alternative to traditional plastic tags. Manufactured using wind power as one energy source, EcoTag is environmentally friendly from beginning to end with plenty of consumer appeal during its useful life. These rigid tags retain their integrity until buried in compost or disposed of in a landfill. The buried tags disintegrate in one to five years.
BioTag is a first-of-its-kind tag made of biodegradable plastic. The BioTag material is produced using a state-of-the-art polymer technology that relies on bio-based products, such as corn and soybeans, rather than fossil fuel-based resins. The end-product has a natural composition that is totally biodegradable. The degradation process takes approximately one year.
Repel, EcoTag and BioTag can contribute to a brand image not only enhancing the look of plant products, but also conveying a corporate commitment to environmental awareness and the conservation of natural resources.
We believe our "earth-friendly" products, when combined with the innovative "green" product offerings coming out of the container manufacturers, provide both growers and retailers with an opportunity to satisfy consumer demands with a profitable, premium product combination.
Keep The Consumer In Mind
by Jack Davis
Horticultural Marketing And Printing
Always design tags and labels with the end consumer in mind. At the end of the day, they make the decision on whether your product grabs their attention and meets their wants and needs. Utilize consumer research not only to design tags, but to create a compelling value proposition that is truly relevant and important to the end consumer.
Research tells us that 65 to 70 percent of plant purchases are made on impulse rather than planned. Some consumers know they want a plant, but don't know what kind, while others just come to browse and make a purchase if something catches their eye.
Research also tells us that unique, high-profile packaging (tags) and well executed point of sale (signs) do attract consumers and increase the chances of your product going home with the customer. Growers are in the consumer products business and all the rules and laws governing consumer products apply to plant consumer products as well.
Tags that generate impulse sales and a higher perceived product value at the same time are by far the best. To be truly distinctive, the graphics and shape of the tag need to be unique. Commonly used tombstone tags, even with custom graphic treatments, generally do not stand out in a crowd. In a very busy garden center, you need every advantage to stand out and grab the customer's attention. Higher perceived values lead to greater margins for both the grower and retailer.
Graphics should play to the female consumer, since they are the primary purchaser and effectively communicate the product's value proposition. Why should I purchase this plant? Promotion of the plant's value proposition is the most often missing element on plant tags today.
Finally and often overlooked, is information about the plant and long term care. This is the information that helps mitigate the fear of failure and promotes the promise of success. Call it consumer confidence. Yesterday's armchair horticulturist generation is giving way to today's "tell me how to do it" XY generations. We cannot take it for granted that the consumer knows anything about how to use or care for our products. The plant tag is the owner's manual.
Printed pots and point-of-sale signs also can help create impulse sales for your product. However, the plant tag has proven to be by far the most powerful and effective marketing tool. If you have a limited budget, start with the tag. Today, plant tags are the No. 1 attention grabber at retail and consumer's No. 1 source of gardening information.
It's Not Just The Tag
by Brenda Vaughn
John Henry Company
It's not just about the tag anymore. It's about the package, the merchandising, the eye appeal - the experience.
From my more than 30 years experience in retail, just like Revlon, Almay and Maybelline compete in the drug store and Budweiser, Coors and Miller compete in the grocery store, your plant brand may be following in those footsteps. Not only does the female consumer these days want it now and instant gratification, she is used to looking at different brands. How are your plants going to get her attention? For decades we've been introducing new plants and putting them alphabetically in the mix and merchandising and packaging the same old way. It's time to think differently and have your customer think of you all year instead of just spring and Christmas. Gift giving, outdoor decorating, shopping as a hobby and "buying things for yourself just 'cause you deserve it" are all great reasons for your new customer to shop your store all year long.
Decorative pots, not just large combination planters, but those 4- and 6-inch pots to drop a gerbera in and go. Handles on large six-pack trays to make it convenient for her to grab and go and do the plant selection for her. Signs that are fun and show consumers that having plants is cool and they add beauty to their surroundings. Changing the language of tags to be more about the experience. For example, our Bellissimo tags, "Party To Patio," have party tips on the back. We need to start thinking more home owner/decorator and less horticulturally. From tags to pots to signage, it's a complete package. Tags are important for the consumer to be successful, but merchandising is key to get her to notice your plants. Plants are beautiful on their own, but the consumer wants more, and she doesn't have much time anymore!
Point Of Sale Is Key
by Joe Fox
Wal-Mart reports more than 120 million customer store visits per week. Given the extreme fragmentation of media channels over the years, many consumer products goods companies have refocused their attention on point of sale. These efforts have proven themselves with "sales lift" on promoted products, but it is also now being viewed as the most effective way to build brand equity.
Many consumer studies reinforce that more than 75 percent of purchase decisions are made at the point of sale. Combine this with the measurable foot traffic at many major retailers and this is the "moment of truth" in a marketing campaign.
So how do you capture the eye of the consumer in the garden center when many of the products are in striking color? Relevancy!
We can't simply tell the consumer what it is, but tell them how it can be used and why it fits for them personally.
You can have a retail display of groundcovers, but a consumer may not understand that this is the solution to finally fixing that area under a shade tree where they can't get grass to grow. Show them the vision and illustrate the end benefits.
We can provide a great selection of 4-inch annuals that perform well in containers, but this generally requires a fair amount of work at the retail center, for the consumer to determine what will thrive together, what looks good together, how many plants are needed, etc. Consumers shy away from garden activities that require work.
Consumer research shows that consumers garden for the following reasons:
- 31 percent of consumers say they garden to create a better home environment.
- One third say gardening and related activities stimulate better mental health, improved nutrition habits and promote physical fitness.
- A similar proportion say they garden to increase curb appeal and the value of their property. (Garden Writers Association late spring survey 2007)
Do we display our products with messages that address these reasons to garden? These responses are our keys to establishing relevancy with today's consumer. Our research indicates the retailer that can provide solutions and make gardening easy will become the destination of choice. Purchasing products for the outdoors is a planned activity. When consumers arrive at the retail site, they will react with impulse buys, like they do in any other department in the store. But to establish your site as the destination with ideas and information is powerful.
Apply your relevant theme or message to your packaging - plant labels and containers. Communicate effectively with consumers at the point of sale as your setting allows: signs, posters, banners, etc.
1) The display works from a distance.
2) The consumer-relevant theme triggers a closer look.
3) The quality product and the take-home message on the package reinforces the buying decision.
Listening to the consumer and providing relevant solutions is the key to consistent growth