Customers Need Hand-Holding And TLC [Opinion]

2Laura-Drotleff-with-SHS-Griffen-succulents-pack-333x500The last time you bought an appliance, did you happen to read the directions? It’s pretty entertaining, I have to say. After buying a toaster recently, I noticed how specific the buyer’s manual is — every detail is covered, from how to plug it in, right down to what to do with it, what to put in it (and what not to put in it), and what to do if an emergency should occur. While just about anyone with an ounce of common sense would likely be able to figure out how to use the toaster, the company can’t and won’t take that chance. Providing this level of basic information is obviously to avoid liability on the off-chance of someone misusing the product and suing the company for not offering directions.

While that kind of information might seem like overkill to you and me, it’s worth considering that perhaps we don’t provide enough basic-level information about the varieties we produce. Sure, we have care information on the tags and sometimes on the pot and signage they can read at retail — but some of that information could go right over consumers’ heads (Read: Taxonomic names, Zones, Annuals vs. Perennials, etc.)

Why aren’t we providing more directions for how consumers can use plants? With the number of things our customers can spend their money on other than plants, we need to provide the value proposition for why they should buy plants, and how plants and flowers can affect and improve lives. And beyond that, how do plants make their lives better, easier, and more beautiful and harmonious, and what are the ways they can use plants to make this happen?

I recently returned from the Week 24 Flower Trials in Europe, where I was fortunate to travel with nine other members of Luxflora, a visionary, women-led, nonprofit, professional organization with the mission to promote the use of flowers in everyday life. During the tour to several breeder operations, which was similar in some ways to the California Spring Trials, it occurred to me just how many things are actually dissimilar to our trials in the U.S.

For example, we noticed that breeders are very active in marketing not just the plants, but the uses for plants. A wall of herbs at Volmary demonstrated how consumers can plant their own bartending garden. A combination of flowers and herbs at Westhoff called ‘Strawberry Mint Mojito,’ complete with merchandising, showed the consumer how they can use those plants and why — it appeals to the “maker” sensibility. Yes, you can use the herbs in this combination to make delicious drinks and impress your friends. Boom, sold.

At Dümmen Orange, new marketing the breeder is working on shows us how to color our shade, taking the guesswork out of looking for plants that will grow well in shady areas. Three simple words — Color Your Shade — answers a number of questions: What do I use these plants for? Where can I put them? How do they make my life easier? Or even better, for customers who already know what they want, this message provides an automatic solution. Boom, sold.

A number of breeders used marketing to appeal to consumers’ need for transparency in the way plants are grown and the social aspects that are considered in growing those plants. From the fair trade program at Dümmen Orange to the Global GAP display at Syngenta Flowers, and the signage at Florensis showing how the company takes care of its employees and the communities where the farms are located, it all matters. Consumers care, and the more we want to show them, the more they’ll care about us. (Oh yeah, you know it: Boom, sold!)

The point is, if we want consumers to use our plants, we have to hold their hands a little and show them some TLC. We have to stop assuming they know how to use plants, and then get frustrated when they feel like they failed with our products. Let’s learn from the small appliance companies of the world to give more clear directions, and reduce our own liability, even if it seems painfully obvious to us. Because ultimately, we’re not the ones we need to convince to buy flowers.

Grower Homework: Test new messages that communicate not only the benefits of the plants you sell, but also exactly how consumers can use them. Learn more about the other products your customers buy at retail, and how they use them, and see if you can cross-merchandise your products — for instance, place herbs in the barware section, or put vegetable plants and edible flowers near the barbeque. Share your ideas at [email protected].

Topics: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Paul Ecke, Jr. Scholarship and Altman Family Scholarships

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Oregon Lean Nursery Consortium

April 15, 2017

How Oregon Growers Are Making Lean Improvements With Help From Their Peers

The Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium recently helped two Pacific Northwest growers realize significant productivity gains and labor savings.

Read More

April 11, 2017

Jerry Halamuda of Color Spot Nurseries Retires

The co-founder of Color Spot Nurseries has retired, effective immediately, and has named a replacement.

Read More
Latest Stories
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Oregon Lean Nursery Consortium

April 15, 2017

How Oregon Growers Are Making Lean Improvements With He…

The Oregon Nursery Lean Consortium recently helped two Pacific Northwest growers realize significant productivity gains and labor savings.

Read More

April 11, 2017

Jerry Halamuda of Color Spot Nurseries Retires

The co-founder of Color Spot Nurseries has retired, effective immediately, and has named a replacement.

Read More
NICH Plants Do That infographic feature

April 11, 2017

New Infographic Highlights Economic Impact of Plants

A new report from the National Institute for Consumer Horticulture shows how horticulture positively affects people’s lives wherever they live, work, shop, and play.

Read More
Vegetable and Hydroponic Production At Vineland

April 10, 2017

Growing Beyond Your Comfort Zone Can Be Rewarding

With experience in biocontrols and IPM, ornamental growers have much to offer in producing emerging horticultural crops.

Read More
Socius Webinar

March 30, 2017

Webinar to Offer Tips on Properly Managing Your Busines…

“How to Survive and Thrive: New Revenue Building Tools for Growers,” presented by Socius, takes place on April 6.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More
Leanne Kenealy, Hoffman Nursery

March 24, 2017

New Horticulturist At Hoffman Nursery Will Focus On Dev…

Leanne Kenealy, who brings great experience in plant evaluation, says introducing consumers to new plants can hopefully generate renewed excitement for gardening.

Read More

March 21, 2017

How Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Can Prepare for a Prod…

The United Fresh Produce Association is holding a Recall Ready Workshop in April that is designed to help growers properly manage a recall, from liability to communications.

Read More
Greenhouse Loyal Customer

March 16, 2017

How Brand Enthusiasts Can Be Your Most Loyal Customers

A marketing expert shares three core principles that direct-to-consumer companies can follow to create brand enthusiasts.

Read More

March 14, 2017

Expanded Customer Footprint, E-Commerce, Succession Key…

Costa Farms' acquisition of indoor foliage producer Delray Plants rocked the industry, but the story behind Delray Plants' sale is the same as for many growers struggling with succession planning. For Costa Farms, the strategic purchase expands its customer footprint and also fast tracks its foray into e-commerce.

Read More
Steve Black and Bridget Behe

March 14, 2017

AmericanHort’s First-Ever CareerUP Event to Take Place …

CareerUP is a day-long workshop that is designed to provide the skills, information, and inspiration that young professionals need to advance their careers, love their jobs, and help the industry grow.

Read More
Horticultural Research Institute Logo

March 12, 2017

Horticulture Research Institute Rings in New Year With …

More than 150 industry professionals attended a reception at MANTS, which introduced new officers and celebrated the more than $190,000 in donations for HRI research fostering business-building knowledge for the horticultural industry.

Read More

March 10, 2017

Costa Farms Expands With Purchase of Indoor Houseplant …

Costa Farms annnounced March 10 that it has acquired Delray Plants, one of the leaders in the indoor houseplant industry. The two operations are committed to the same values, principles, and goals to grow the industry, and will fit well together to accomplish this, say Randy Gilde, CEO of Delray Plants, and Joche Smith, CEO of Costa Farms.

Read More
Startup Stock Photos

March 10, 2017

Passionate Horticulture Writers Wanted To Join Our Team

GreenhouseGrower.com is looking for people to join our team and submit original content to our website about floriculture and greenhouse production of emerging crops.

Read More

March 7, 2017

Local Florists Celebrate Women’s Day and SAF Prom…

Florists across the U.S. are celebrating International Women's Day, March 8, and raising awareness for non-profit organizations. The Society of American Florists is raising its own awareness of what happens when women receive flowers with a new video for International Women's Day.

Read More
Egon and Laina Molbak

March 7, 2017

American Floral Endowment Receives Major Contribution t…

AFE recently announced that it has received a $100,000 contribution from Egon and Laina Molbak, the founders and long-time owners of Molbak’s Garden + Home outside of Seattle.

Read More