Consumer Culture And Lifestyle Demographics To Watch, According To Young Industry Leaders

Greenhouse Grower hosted a panel of young marketers and savvy growers from operations across the country in a Google Hangout. We asked these young leaders:

Aside from age, what other demographic changes should we be preparing for, i.e. marketing to different culture groups and nationalities?

You might be surprised when you read what they said.

susie.raker.zimmermanSusie Raker, C. Raker & Sons: As an industry, we have to be prepared to market to everybody. That’s it, hands down. We can’t afford not to appeal to every nationality, every culture. So it’s just a matter of defining those groups and what speaks to them.

Jennifer Hatalski, Hort Couture: My boyfriend’s family is Hispanic and they just love to have their tomato plants because of how much Jen Hatalski headshot_webfresh salsa they make. The one big thing for them is it’s a part of their culture and everybody is going to have certain things that they grew up around. They love making fresh salsa and fresh pico de gallo. I love visiting them because I like going out into the garden and helping pick the fresh tomatoes, and seeing how they make it and use their flavors. Every culture is going to have something different that we can really grasp onto and market to specifically, but it’s getting to know all of those specific cultures and nationalities.

StephanieWhitehouse_webStephanie Whitehouse, Peace Tree Farm: We really need to work on marketing to our Latino groups, as well as Southeast Asian cultures. Peace Tree is just north of Philadelphia, so we have not only the big Italian market, but we also have Southeast Asian demographics. We had a huge run on lemongrass this year because everybody was starting to grow lemongrass and use it in cooking Asian cuisines.

I think we really need to try to focus on not just usual American culture, but see how we can diversify our palates and diversify the plants we offer. We can study the different focuses and offer the favorite plants for each culture, and promote those not just for specific cultures but as plants that everyone can enjoy for different purposes.

I also see a big shift from people living in suburbia to more urban areas, so it will be important to build on the trend toward small-space gardening.

Joe Lutey_webJoe Lutey, Wojo’s Greenhouses: We need to be ready and available to market to everybody and be able to suit everyone’s needs, as cultures start to blend and consolidate into a lot fewer general nationalities. There is going to be fewer individual demographics to market to, and we really just need to be more general and promote the gardening lifestyle.

Soon, Google and Facebook are going to tell us exactly what customers are looking for when they come in our stores. We’ve been mining people’s data now for years and by the time my son is a little bit older, retailers will know exactly what he wants by the time he comes in and checks in to the store. They’ll have a shopping list already waiting for him. Things like that are really going to change. We’re not really going to be looking necessarily for age groups, but for shared interests, what can be tied back to gardening and what sections of gardening consumers are interested in.

robohara_webRob O’Hara, Rainbow Greenhouses: Recognizing the demographics of the area you’re in and catering to the geographical areas where you’re able to sell preferred products to different nationalities will be important. For example, one of our biggest sellers here is lucky bamboo. We have a big Asian population in Vancouver and our customers love this stuff and they buy a lot of it. So we recognize that but we’re not necessarily going to ship a lot of lucky bamboo up into Northern Canada because that population just isn’t there.

I also think there’s a lot of opportunity moving forward with more young men buying our products in the garden centers. There’s a big market there that can be tapped into more and more. The ideal was always that women were 80 percent of our market, making all the purchases on flowers, but with guys doing a lot more cooking, they want to grow more of their own food. I’m meeting more and more men who are interested in our products and are buying them now, and I think that’s going to really increase in the future.

Kristine Lonergan_webKristine Lonergan, Garden State Growers: We have a lot of customers right outside of Manhattan and this summer in particular, our container business and our vegetable business went through the roof. The customers’ questions were all about rooftop gardening and vertical gardening, so urban demographics are huge where we are.

The other trend is, there are a lot more women who own their own homes. They are not married and are choosing just to buy a home on their own. I think that particular market segues into our conversation about eCommerce. Those two trends are connected because it’s difficult, first of all, when you go to shop for gardening products. You have to have a car, it’s dirty, you get mulch and it’s heavy. To bring all those supplies home, it’s such an ordeal that by the time you get home, you don’t even want to plant. So that particular market – females owning their own homes – will have a direct impact on our industry.

The last opportunity is really honing in on the health benefits of gardening, particularly vegetables and herbs. I often wonder why (and I’ve reached out) Weight Watchers doesn’t come out with its own line of herbs or something. To me, it’s a no brainer. But I think that whole connection with our industry is huge.

Marta Maria Garcia of Costa FarmsMarta Maria Garcia, Costa Farms: Hispanics are definitely a demographic we need to keep our eye on. Hispanics make up 17 percent of the total population and are expected to be up to 30 percent by 2050. One out of six Americans right now is Hispanic, so you can’t ignore them. They’re here to stay. Eventually in the future, it will get all blended because they are acculturing to the U.S., but they’re not leaving their culture behind. They’re assimilating but culture is very big. I’m in that group. I can tell you that we are very proud of our heritage and we acknowledge that we’re here and we’re part of the U.S. but we don’t leave our values and what we’ve learned behind.

The beauty about this group is that they over index in gardening and it’s something that ties them back to their home country. Any nationality – South American, Central American, Caribbean – nature was part of our environment and being part of nature was in our day-to-day. So I think it’s a demographic to watch. It’s not about talking to them about this particular plant that they’re familiar with from their home country; it’s about lifestyle. Hispanics are about celebrating, entertaining, being together. So gardening is that activity that historically has always united them. It’s about sharing what we grow.

Jen, I thought it was interesting to hear about your boyfriend’s family and growing tomatoes, and I’m sure he probably brings tomatoes that his aunt grows. There is an underground exchange of fruits and vegetables between Hispanics because they love to grow their own. I think that’s a halo effect that they are going to bring to the general market. Hispanics are becoming more relevant and crossing over to the mainstream, so there might be that iconic person, that face we need to make gardening cool in the Hispanic culture. Because for them, it is cool. It’s what identifies them back with their culture, with their grandparents, that activity that unites them as a family. It’s a demographic that’s very important and we need to keep an eye out.

Another demographic that we should be looking at is the child-free couples and women. One of five women in the U.S. do not have a child. Back in 1976, that was one out of 10. That’s another group to watch because they have a lot of disposable income and a lot of time. They might have full-time jobs but they do have more free time than working moms. So this group is one to watch because they have something to invest in to entertain themselves, and they have the money and the time.

O’Hara: I’m in that group. I don’t have much time but there is expendable income to buy a $50 planter one weekend and let it die, then buy another one the next weekend. I think that’s what you see in that age group quite a bit.

Garcia: It’s not only women, it’s child-free couples. There was a great article in Time magazine that talked about this trend and it blew my mind. The statistics were strong.

Raker: It’s funny that you bring that up because I have a 2-year-old and I’m thinking about what my husband and I used to do, prior to the kid and watching Elmo and wiping noses. We spent a lot of time at home improvement stores. I can’t remember the last time I bought a new light fixture. It’s funny to put things in perspective when you step back and think for a minute.

O’Hara: I just may be naïve but when guys go to buy stuff, we don’t look at prices as much. We just think, “Oh, I like that. I’m going to buy it.” We’re kind of that way. We’re impulsive, we can make a quick decision and we can be in and out of that garden center and drop $500 pretty easily.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Consumer Culture And Lifestyle Demographics To Watch, According To Young Industry Leaders

  1. I think the emphasis on offering more locally grown flowers and plants should always be the key…as Our Industry is contributing to the Global warming significantly. Our Industry spends so much fuel and money shipping plants from one continent to the other just to make a profit, we’ve lost track of ourselves’….More simple to grow plants that are easily propagated on site instead of having to grow in mass production and ship by the millions is the key…and don’t focus on the Ethnicity of it…that will in the end…bring it crashing down on you as once one starts catering then everyone caters to it and then the fad becomes yesterday leading you all to scramble once again for the next ‘IT’…just stop and slow down…the industry is about to go off the tracks due to too many people trying to drive the train.

More From Business Management...
Feature image The 2015 Perennial Plant Of The Year, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo.’

August 27, 2015

The Perennial Plant Association’s Regional Symposium Will Be This October In Dallas

The Perennial Plant Association plans to hold its Regional Symposium October 5 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the All-America Selections/Home Garden Seed Association's Summer/Fall Summit held October 5 to 8.

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More

August 21, 2015

Proven Winners Announces Roadshow Events For 2015

Proven Winner's Roadshow Events, held across North America, provide growers and retailers with the opportunity to learn how to grow Proven Winner's newest varieties and receive information about industry trends.

Read More
Latest Stories
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More
AmericanHort logo

August 20, 2015

David Savoia To Serve As AmericanHort’s Interim P…

Following Michael Geary’s announcement that he has resigned as president and CEO of AmericanHort, the association has announced that CFO and Senior Vice President for Operations David Savoia will serve as interim president and CEO while the board conducts a search for a new staff executive. Craig Regelbrugge, the senior vice president for advocacy and research, will support Savoia with the association’s external affairs. Geary announced August 12  that he will be leaving his position after September 30 to serve as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. “As some of you know, I grew up connected to the horticulture industry so this was not an easy decision for me,” Geary said in an eMail. “I have loved working with our organizations and our talented members, staff and partners. However, my choice to return full time to Washington, D.C. will allow me […]

Read More
Janeen Wright

August 19, 2015

Why A Step Backward Can Propel Your Greenhouse Business…

Taking a step backward to reflect on the past and plan for the future helps you confidently move your growing operation forward from a position of power.

Read More
Geary-Michael

August 18, 2015

Michael Geary Is Leaving AmericanHort

AmericanHort president and CEO Michael Geary announced last Wednesday that he will be leaving his position at the end of September to serve as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. “I am writing to share with you that on October 8 I will begin a new professional chapter as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architecture, engineering and construction industries,” Geary said in an email. His last day with AmericanHort will be Sept. 30, 2015. “As some of you know, I grew up connected to the horticulture industry so this was not an easy decision for me,” he said. “I have loved working with our organizations and our talented members, staff and partners. However, my choice to return full time to Washington, D.C. will allow me to be closer to my family and aging parents and to re-engage with another industry […]

Read More

August 15, 2015

Ball Horticultural Co. Buys Conard-Pyle/Star Roses And …

Ball Horticultural Co. plans to add Conard-Pyle/Star Roses and Plants to its family of breeding and distribution companies, according to a press release dated August 14, which announced the company’s recent acquisition of the famous introducer of Knock Out Roses and other perennials and woody plants to the market. Ball plans to capitalize on the expertise of its Ball Ornamentals woody ornamentals division, as well as Conard-Pyle’s market-leading position as a top rose breeder to strengthen its product line. The sale is scheduled to close by the end of September 2015. Conard-Pyle’s in-house breeding division NovaFlora, along with its intellectual properties and the distribution, production and administration facilities of its wholesale division are also part of the acquisition. NovaFlora is the driving force behind the Star Roses and Plants brand. “Conard-Pyle has been the leader in roses in its market and has been actively diversifying its offering with other woody […]

Read More
Christina Salwitz 2014_featured

August 12, 2015

Christina Salwitz Says Women Bring A Unique Perspective…

Garden writer Christina Salwitz is a powerhouse in the industry. She is an expert container designer, works at an independent garden center and runs her own blog. Salwitz is active on social media, and she fights for the industry’s ability to stay autonomous from the big box stores. Most importantly, Salwitz stands out in a field of garden industry people as a design and color specialist who can bring something brilliant and unique to the end consumer. Her garden design business, established in 1998, started with landscaping, then evolved into container design because of increased demand for her unique and color-filled designs. Salwitz continues to work at an independent garden center in order to connect directly with the consumer. She also evolved and expanded her business by blogging, authoring books such as “Fine Foliage” with co-author Karen Chapman, and concentrating on horticultural photography. Demand grew for her work, and by March 2014 her designs were […]

Read More
3D Green Printer

August 11, 2015

3D Printers Sprout Living Designs

Project PrintGREEN is turning 3D printers into on-demand gardeners after designing a “green” 3D printer in 2013. The printer produces living prints, printing customized objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project was created at the University of Maribor in Slovenia, with a goal to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

August 7, 2015

The California Effect: 2016 Could Be A Watershed Year F…

For growers who are looking at the potential for cannabis production but are trying to get a sense for the regulatory lay of the land – know that 2016 could be a watershed year for cannabis legalization.

Read More
cannabis

August 7, 2015

Cannabis Producer Solstice Provides Insight To Greenhou…

To gain some real-world insight about what it takes to produce and sell cannabis, and some of the challenges and roadblocks involved, Greenhouse Grower reached out to Solstice, a producer and processor of cannabis for medical and adult use in Washington state. Alex Cooley, the co-founder and vice president of Solstice, gave us an exclusive interview, and answered the following questions to give greenhouse growers a glimpse into different aspects involved in cannabis production. Visit the Solstice website or follow Solstice on Twitter @SolsticeGrown for more information. Greenhouse Grower (GG): First, let’s get to know you. Could you tell us some background about Solstice and how it got started? Alex Cooley: We started Solstice in 2011 to help legitimize the medical cannabis marketplace by providing consistent, lab-tested cannabis of high quality and creating the state’s first cultivation brand. It was started by myself and two other partners, Will Denman and […]

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

August 7, 2015

Big Banks A Step Closer To Financing Cannabis — Or Not

A key Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill on July 23 that allows the nation's capital to establish regulated medical marijuana stores and lets banks provide financial services to state legalized marijuana dispensaries.

Read More
Roots To Re-Entry’s ornamental plant nursery donates plants to local community gardens

August 4, 2015

Roots To Re-Entry Transforms Lives

An inspired employment initiative takes green-job training behind prison walls to help inmates find jobs in urban agriculture and the landscaping industry upon their release, and along the way, it is changing lives for the better. The Roots To Re-Entry (R2R) job training program, conceived by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) and its partners, does more than teach inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System the skills they need to find meaningful employment; it also teaches them invaluable life skills. The PHS staff leads participants through a 16-week course that includes hands-on projects designed to teach them horticultural skills and provide them with training in landscape maintenance and greenhouse growing. In addition to English and math, the nonprofit Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) offers supplemental courses in health education and employment preparedness. Upon inmates’ release from prison, the FNC assists R2R graduates with the transition to life outside prison walls by […]

Read More
Burpee Home Gardens Brand Adds Flowers

July 31, 2015

4 Reasons Retailers Snub National Brands

Greenhouse Grower’s lead editor, Laura Drotleff, and I got into a debate about why garden retailers, especially independent garden centers, snub marketing efforts from breeders and growers. She was very much on the breeders’ and growers’ side, expressing frustration about how limited retailers’ vision can be on the topic. I’ve reported on the garden retail side of the industry since 1998, about the same length of time Laura has reported on growers. I’ve heard a lot of retailer views on this, so allow me to share the most common reasons why retailers decline free marketing: Costs. While the marketing materials are free, and sometimes advertising, participating in these projects usually requires minimum orders. From a grower’s perspective, the minimum orders are reasonable. If garden stores promote a plant line, they need to have enough supplies to satisfy demand. From a retail perspective, if inventory reports show a plant line can […]

Read More

July 30, 2015

Spread Your Risk Beyond Spring Sales [Opinion]

Growers who participated in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Recap Survey said they have had enough of the uncertainty that the weather brings. They said it’s time to build up sales in other seasons like fall so we’re not so dependent on spring. As a couple of wholesale growers, both from the Southeast, very eloquently stated, our industry has mastered squeezing everything we can out of the spring season. And while this year happened to be a very successful one, thanks to the improving economy and elevated consumer confidence, they said, “now is no time to celebrate.” “Spring is still Christmas in the horticulture industry, but we have done such a good job focusing on spring that we have neglected other seasons,” one grower said. “Having so many eggs in the spring basket is dangerous. Fall will never be what spring is, but having a solid second season is in […]

Read More

July 29, 2015

2015 Spring Crops Report: Rain Soaks Spring Sales

Rain, rain and more rain. That was the story this spring for the large majority of growers across the U.S. And where it wasn’t too wet, it was too dry. Drought conditions cut sales in the West and Southwest. But it wasn’t all bad. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Survey declared the season a success, despite its challenges. They said beautiful weather in April and excited consumers who were ready to spend got the season going early, but then cool temps and rainy weekends throughout May and June caused confusion over when and how much to plant. Of the 189 respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey, 53 percent identified themselves as grower-retailers, 34 percent were wholesale growers and 13 percent said they were young plant growers. Most responses came from the Midwest (27 percent), Northeast (18 percent) and Southeast (16 percent), but also […]

Read More
eMailMarketing feature image

July 23, 2015

Is eMail Dead?

Email as a marketing technique may seem outdated, but when done well, it is still an effective way to share content and market your brand.

Read More
Berns_Roberto Lopez_Purdue6

July 22, 2015

Cultivate’15 Greenhouse Learning Tour Showcases G…

Growers took advantage of the Greenhouse Learning tour held Saturday, July 11 at Cultivate'15 to see the strategies and technology two successful growing operations are using to tackle production challenges and come out ahead of the game.

Read More
HGTV HOME CAST 2015

July 22, 2015

Cultivate’15: Keynote Nancy Fire Says Use Passion…

In the second keynote presentation at Cultivate’15, Nancy Fire, founder and creative director of Design Works International, discussed how the horticulture industry can capitalize on the latest design and lifestyle trends. Fire works with companies to help bring their designs to the next level, and she has expertise with textiles and surface design, market analysis and corporate rebranding. She was appointed as design director for HGTV HOME in 2011. Fire says customers today are interested in companies that show passion for what they do. That, combined with following the general direction of trends and maintaining a brand, are what will keep horticulture businesses relevant to their customers. A trend isn’t just a passing fad, Fire says, but rather, it indicates that something is developing or changing in a certain direction. Plants are important to consumers today, and fit into current trends, both inside and outside the home, Fire says. “I don’t […]

Read More
LuxFlora logo feature image

July 21, 2015

Luxflora Launches With Cultivate Speaker Event, New Web…

A new organization for women in horticulture that aims to change the way consumers think about flowers, launched at Cultivate’15 by sponsoring Ketty Maisonrouge, a marketing expert, who presented “How To Create A Luxury Brand.” Luxflora recently launched its website, as well as a page on LinkedIn, to facilitate networking among women in horticulture. The organization is working on next steps, including setting up a board of directors and officers. Updates and information on future events will be available at the Luxflora website as they are scheduled. Read about Luxflora’s mission and what it hopes to accomplish in “Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement.” In the session during Cultivate, Ketty Maisonrouge, owner of KM & Company, adjunct professor of luxury strategy at the Columbia University Business School and the author of “The Luxury Alchemist,” presented her ideas and expertise on luxury strategy marketing, and how it applies to horticulture. […]

Read More