Consumer Success Is Key To Industry Success [Opinion]

Editor’s Note: Over the next several months, this column will feature a roundtable of viewpoints from various team members with vested interest in and experience with Greenhouse Grower and the horticulture market.

Carol MillerIn early April, the Greenhouse Grower editorial team enjoyed that epic, exhausting and brilliant road trip known as California Spring Trials. After taking thousands and thousands of photos, driving hundreds of miles and talking to dozens of people, it took a few days to process all that we experienced.

One of the themes that emerged from the clutter of memories and notes was how breeders are giving substance to claims of wanting to help consumers succeed. It’s something we as an industry have been discussing for a long time, but we have also struggled with how to deliver that at multiple levels.

Take color fads. Lime green was hot for awhile, then black leaves were all the rage. Breeders developed a lot of great plants to match the trends, but let’s be honest, there were also a lot of stinkers.

Those plants, both good and bad, were developed because of consumer demand. But how much they ultimately advanced gardening is open for debate. Consumers want to stay on trend, sure, but they want to succeed even more.

Greenhouse Grower’s sister publication, Today’s Garden Center, recruited Dr. Bridget Behe of Michigan State University and Dr. Susan Hogan of Emory University to conduct consumer research to learn which barriers exist that prevent younger generations from gardening.

The team collected a lot of information from three different focus groups that took place over three days each. There were dozens of questions that generated hundreds of pages of transcripts, and a funny thing happened. One of the most important findings came from spontaneous comments and not from questions the researchers prepared. The terms “luck” and “risk” came up repeatedly.

Consumers feel they have very little control over a plant’s survival. If the plant thrives, it’s due to luck, not good gardening practices or even good breeding. The specter of a new plant dying soon after planting is always present, however, which makes the money spent on plants a risk.

Breeders Are Focusing On Fool-Proof Plants

Many breeders are aware of the problem and are striving to ensure that plants in a customer’s home garden will live up to the visual appeal the plant has on a store display bench. A lot of the resulting plants were on display in California.

Several companies promoted compact varieties that require very little or no growth regulators to maintain their petite habit. These plants remove the risk of customers being dismayed when well-formed, small plants revert to their original genetics in the home garden and turn into leggy, sprawling bullies.

I would feel even better about this development, though, if I was certain that the reason behind the breeding effort stemmed from concern for the home user and not purely a desire for fewer inputs in the greenhouse. Many of the breeding advances are geared to benefit growers, from shorter growing periods to ease of shipping.

Don’t get me wrong, these are important goals to chase. As an industry we need to control costs. But we also need to make sure advances for growers do not have a negative result for the end user. Are plants that can be propagated more quickly than others in the species as long-lived? Will plants look as good a month after purchase as they do on the bench? If not, then consumers will continue to lose interest in gardening and we’ll be facing a much bigger challenge of trying to find an audience for our plants.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Consumer Success Is Key To Industry Success [Opinion]

  1. I agree with your opinion. Consumer success is a must to keep the industry thriving. It does not matter where someone buys a plant, if they fail, we will lose a Millennial for 3 years because they failed and the whole experience wasn’t worth their time. The issue we run into with the millennial generation of gardeners is that our industry is complicated. When something is complicated you have to take the time to understand it. In the crazy busy culture of the Millennial generation, many of them do not want to take the time that it takes to learn all about gardening just to pick out or plant a couple of nice containers. They want it to be easy, quick and to perform. I think that’s where the “luck” and “risk” words come into play. Many times they are just winging it and hoping for the best. I’ve been observing this over the last few years as a major issue in our industry and this is why we are developing the GrowIt! Mobile App. We want to make it easier for the millennial generation to get inspired AND for them to find plants that perform in their local area. I hear what you’re saying and I agree with you.…our solution is GrowIt!

More From Business Management...

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Women To Seek Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and Suppliers Together in San Diego This October

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s New

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Wom…

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and …

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Maryland Green Industry Associations Unite

The Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced that it is expanding its reach to include the greenhouse industry, meaning it has become The Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). The change comes as a result of the planned dissolution of the former Maryland Greenhouse Growers Association and the invitation for those members to join the existing and renamed association.

Read More
american-hort-logo

March 4, 2015

H-2B Cap Hit, Adding to Visa Program Woes

The H-2B visa cap for the first half of fiscal 2015 was hit late in January. As a result, some growers may not have access to the H-2B workers they need during the months ahead. The visa cap and resulting labor shortages will have impacts throughout the horticulture industry.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Avoid Surprises On The Delivery Dock

A call in advance about problems with a plant shipment to a retailer you supply goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

Read More
Smart Herb Garden

March 2, 2015

Smartpot Uses Sensors And Cartridges To Ensure Success …

Click & Grow helps make it simple for consumers to grow their own herbs and spices at home, even if they have little experience with plants.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Student Flash Mob At TPIE Has Roots In Floriculture

The local FFA students who entertained TPIE attendees in 2014 and 2015 received industry donations of plants and a greenhouse structure to help expand their horticultural program.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More
american-hort-logo

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More
All American Selections

February 17, 2015

All-America Selections Elects New Officers, Names New J…

While meeting during the Flower and Vegetable Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla., hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, All-America Selections elected new officers for a two-year term. Read on to learn about the new officers, as well as all of the new judges that were added in 2014.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Benchmarks: Find Your Game-Changer

Refuse to accept the status quo in your organization. Explore possibilities until you find what works best for your company.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower.com on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015

GreenhouseGrower.com Relaunches With Responsive Design …

Greenhouse Grower magazine, the nation’s leader in profits, production and education for greenhouse growers, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, GreenhouseGrower.com. The new design is the product of direct user feedback and GreenhouseGrower.com analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

Read More
Noble Foundation

February 3, 2015

Lloyd Noble Scholars Program Application Period Now Ope…

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is offering college students an opportunity to work side-by-side with the Noble Foundation’s renowned agricultural consultants and researchers through the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program, a summer internship that provides students the opportunity to enhance their in-class education with real-world application and experiences.

Read More
Andy Higgins

February 3, 2015

MasterTag Names Andy Higgins As Its New President

Former CEO and president of Ecke Ranch, Andy Higgins, joins MasterTag as its new president. He brings more than two decades of industry experience to the position.

Read More