October 19, 2009
Now Is The Time For National Promotion
Time to kick the hornet’s nest: Now is the time for a national marketing program for our products. We just survived the scariest spring in recent memory. Many of us did it by growing and selling less material. Many of us lost sales, especially those who grow bigger-ticket items like shrubs. We survived, but not without cost. Remember our great growth spurt of the past decades? The experts say that spurt is well over, and many of our markets are flattening or shrinking. Plus, the environmental movement has its costs. We may have to retool what and how we grow, and many of us really don’t understand younger consumers. Taking Action So, I think it is time to say we need help to grow the market–and to help direct messages to consumers about how great plants really are. Growing the market will help all of us–all products, all […]
May 5, 2009
Scullin: How Did Spring Play Out?
Sitting here mid-spring at the end of April, there are bits of good and bad news to report. First, spring has arrived, despite the naysayers. Birds are singing, lawns are greening and folks are in the garden centers. Despite the gloom and doom, the world did not end. Second, from many reports, people are shopping in both big box and independent garden centers. From a bedding plant perspective, items are moving at a good pace. Some regions of the United States are worse than others, but from all early indications, bedding plants are selling at or near last year’s pace in many markets. To quote from this past year’s Pack Trials: “Flat is the new up.” Depending on weather and region, I’m hearing slightly up or down 5 percent compared to last year. Third, on the expensive stuff, read “expensive” as shrubs, trees or anything with a retail price of […]
November 18, 2008
Survivability 101 by Laurie Scullin
I know we’re looking ahead 25 years, but let’s start with a few words and one chart (see below) on why you should market. First, the chart. From 2002 to 2007, wholesale sales of floriculture crops ranged from $3.95 billion in 2002 to a high of $4.15 billion in 2005 to a slight decline to $4.10 billion in 2007. Looks pretty good. But look what happens when we factor in inflation. Our industry sales in total dollars shrank every year from 2002 to 2007! Much of the growth we did see in the 1990s was due to big box chains building more stores rather than building new customers who love planting flowers. So, when the big box stores slow their expansion, we slow down or shrink! Worded another way, our notoriously under-marketed industry is now paying the piper for not developing new customers to replace old customers. Even with the […]
September 18, 2008
McCain, Obama & A Kilt
InstaKilt is driving its marketing message home–literally. So why shouldn’t growers do the same to promote plants? The trade shows seemed a tad quiet to me this year. I’m not sure about attendance, but higher gas prices and poor spring weather have dampened the mood as we get ready for 2009. So, let me put you in a worse mood, and then offer a goofy solution connecting the presidential campaign and an item as simple as a beach towel. Let’s start with the election. How many of you have factored your production grow plan down because of the election? And I mean way down. We are going to see shrinking demand, and it will all be because of John McCain and Barack Obama. Why, you ask? For starters, we are going to have two straight months of TV commercials telling us how poor we are, how the economy is terrible, […]
July 9, 2008
Are Packs The New Black?
OK, so we have had a lot of family stuff these past few weeks – plus I’ve been in the home office working with my head down, so clearly I’m not spending enough time out in real world, because I just drove past the local gas station and a gallon of gas cost $3.79. It had been about $3.25 last I remembered, so first I said a really bad word, because I was surprised and shocked. Then I had to laugh at myself for being an idiot. Of course we will see $4-and-up gas this summer. I’ve clearly spent too much time sleeping in my cave in Florida — old Rip van Winkle would be chuckling at me. I knew that oil passed $120 a barrel. I knew all about sub-prime and the bursting of the residential housing bubble. I could tell ya’ about it in great detail — what the Fed has […]
June 24, 2008
Listening To Cassandra
I’m writing just after OFA – the Big Kahuna of greenhouse trade shows. There were trends to talk about, but first I want to share my story of Cassandra. Before horticulture, I majored in archaeology in college. Both fields involved being outside digging holes and ancient history has always held a level of fascination. I really believe that in a large sense what we are today is so often what we were in the past. And if you go back far enough in history you will run into Cassandra, a prophetess of Greek mythology fame who had an amazing curse. Cassandra could see the future, but her curse was no one believed her. Perhaps her most famous moment was in the city of Troy, where she said something like, "Do not let the big wooden horsey into Troy. It’s full of bad guys," or words to that effect. What does […]
June 20, 2008
R U Ready?
So the other day I was attending the Canadian Greenhouse Conference and had a chance to sit in on the keynote address. Anna Ball gave a fantastic presentation, talking about the industry and trends, sharing how she sees our future. Anna has been very consistent the past few years talking about sustainability and she talked about that again. In case you have been doing space travel the past few years, with the good help from former VP Al Gore and a rapidly warming planet, many/most consumers/voters are now aware of environmental issues. The green movement has moved from the fringes to center stage. If you cannot be fully "Certified Organic" you should at least be making your business and home "better" by shifting to products and practices that use less energy inputs. This is the drive to using products that are sustainable. A company that was focused on these issues would […]
June 18, 2008
Letter To Linda
Hello Laurie, I just wanted to write and let you know what a super article you wrote for the May issue of Greenhouse Grower. As a greenhouse grower, garden center owner and a retail florist (FTD and Teleflora), I can appreciate what you have to say about selling design elements. While I consider myself to stay current with the trends, I cannot say that for my grower … however, at least I have a grower who "thinks" like a retailer. Thanks again, Linda Zoerb President La Crosse Floral Co. Inc. La Crosse, WI Hi Linda, First, thanks for the kind words. It feels good to know that people agree or disagree with me. Also, congratulations for having a grower with a good feel for what the retailer wants. That is huge. Second, I do not have any real good solutions for this. All my ideas are way too radical. But if […]
June 17, 2008
Dot’s Pot — I Don’t Get It
I have been working on a project where I get to assist with some design work. That is the fun part of marketing. This is the part of marketing that you see on TV – the snappily dressed and witty ad agency folks all sitting around, drinking lattes, brainstorming ideas for the client, when one will jump up and shout "Eureka!" or some such. Now in my case, I sit around not so nattily dressed (Florida flip-flops do not the GQ list make), the latte is Folgers, but every so often I jump up and shout "Eureka!" if for no other reason than to wake the sleeping dogs. We are working with really, really good designers. The team is exceptional. Not a better agency team in the industry. Period – end of statement. We are also working with a breeding company’s design team. They are making sure we take care of […]
June 17, 2008
Starbucks (aka Fivebucks) & Vera Wang
Question – What do Vera Wang, Starbucks and bedding plants all have in common? Answer–They are all used in decorating decisions by our customers. Some of you faithful readers of this column will likely be able to connect Vera Wang to a geranium, but the coffee giant Starbucks may be a leap. Let me attempt to connect the dots. Any of you who know me know what a snappy dresser I am–baggy jeans, old denim shirt and clogs. There’s a random chance my belt and shoe color will match. Dressing up is to iron the above mentioned denim shirt. If it doesn’t come from Land’s End or Target, I do not own it. I think I am pretty typical of most of my fellow Y-chromosome brethren with my very badly developed (or cared about) fashion sense. For you fellow fashion plates out there in reader land, Vera Wang is […]
January 13, 2017
We Must Help Heal Our Nation, with Plants and Flowers […
No matter how you may feel — personally or professionally — about the outcome of the election, it’s likely that you realize our nation has some healing to do.
January 12, 2017
Prevention and Early Intervention: The Keys to Biocont…
Advance preparation and starting out right helps you implement an effective biocontrol program that reduces pest pressure.
January 11, 2017
New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…
Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.
January 10, 2017
Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund Accepting …
The deadline for applications is May 26, and 12 scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded at the SEGreen Conference in August.
January 10, 2017
Pest Management Workshop to Take Place in Virginia on J…
Battlefield Farms will host the workshop, which is being coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension and will focus on new techniques in disease and insect control.
January 10, 2017
Greenhouse Grower Quadcopter Sweepstakes Winner Announc…
Anne Bolser of Van Wingerden International was the Grand Prize Winner in Greenhouse Grower magazine’s recent Quadcopter Sweepstakes.
January 8, 2017
Sakata’s Participation in Tour de Fresh Race Results in…
On the heels of riding in the Tour de Fresh Race in July, Allen Satterlee of Sakata Seed America celebrated by presenting a new salad bar to Galt Elementary School in California.
January 6, 2017
Griffin Opening New Hard-Goods-Focused Distribution Cen…
The planned February opening of the 18,500 square-foot facility is part of the company’s continued expansion into the Western U.S.
January 5, 2017
Successful Propagation of Purple Fountain Grass From Si…
In the first article of a two-part series, researchers discuss how propagation daily light integral and root-zone temperature influence root growth and development of single-internode purple fountain grass culm cuttings.
January 5, 2017
Why ArizonaEast Is Expanding Its Succulent Production T…
In Greenhouse Grower's January cover story, learn how Brian and Joe Vitale of ArizonaEast saw a chance to expand and diversify their New Jersey-based succulent operation, and why they jumped at the opportunity.
January 4, 2017
Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …
Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.
January 3, 2017
Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017
With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.
January 3, 2017
Southern Nursery Association Research Conference Procee…
On the heels of presenting awards to students in the horticulture industry, the Southern Nursery Association has compiled and published its conference research proceedings.
January 3, 2017
Expect Big Changes for California Spring Trials 2017
California Spring Trials 2017 will be here before you know it. Find out what you can look forward to and get a head start on planning and registering for your trip.
January 2, 2017
Why You Need To Know What’s In Your Growing Media…
Before you buy growing media mixes or raw materials to mix your own custom blends, here are some important factors to consider.