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...
National Garden Bureau New Website

March 22, 2017

National Garden Bureau’s New Website Features Mobile-Friendly Design, Marketing Tools

The new site is designed to serve as a home base to drive traffic from NGB’s social media community to one central location.

Read More

March 21, 2017

How Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Can Prepare for a Product Recall

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
Latest Stories

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
Ken and Deena Altman

March 7, 2017

Altman Plants in Escrow to Purchase EuroAmerican Propag…

Ken Altman, a co-owner of Altman Plants based in Vista, CA, has confirmed that the operation is currently in escrow to purchase EuroAmerican Propagators, the Bonsall, CA-based young plant and finished plant grower that filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on Jan. 23, 2017. Ken and Deena Altman are co-owners of Altman Plants and The Plug Connection, along with their son Matthew, who has recently bought into the family business. The 55 acres of land and all of the facilities on it, which were previously owned by Jerry Church, a partner in EuroAmerican Propagators, are part of the purchase agreement currently in escrow, Altman says. However, it would not be absorbed by Altman Plants, which in 2016 was number 3 on Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers list with more than 11 million square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse production, 62 acres of shade production, and 400 acres of outdoor field production. Altman Plants’ property […]

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More
North Creek Tim McGinty Steve Castorini

February 24, 2017

AmericanHort Names New Board Members and Officers for 2…

The new board members are Steve Castorani of North Creek Nurseries, Tom Hughes of Hughes Nursery and Landscaping, and Cole Mangum of Bell Nursery.

Read More
EAGL Graduates

February 22, 2017

Emerging Industry Leaders Earn Business Management Cert…

Dr. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair for International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, recently announced the graduation of the fourth cohort of the elite Executive Academy for Growth & Leadership (EAGL) program for nursery and greenhouse growers.

Read More
2016 Top 100 Growers List

February 18, 2017

Top 100 Growers Survey for 2017 Is Now Open!

Operations with more than 400,000 square feet of environmentally controlled production are eligible to take the survey, which only takes a few minutes to complete.

Read More

February 17, 2017

How to Keep Customers Coming Back With Top-Notch Servic…

A recent article on Forbes.com outlines seven ways organizations can take their customer service from good to great and beyond.

Read More
Tom Foley, WaterPulse

February 17, 2017

Industry Veteran Tom Foley Discusses His New Role as Vi…

Foley, a greenhouse industry veteran who was most recently with EuroAmerican Propagators, will be responsible for North American sales of WaterPulse’s patent-pending capillary mats and associated irrigation systems to nurseries and growers.

Read More
EuroAmerican Propagators Greenhouses

February 14, 2017

Suppliers Comment on Plant Genetics’ Fate After EuroAme…

Since the operation’s bankruptcy filing on January 23, 2017, suppliers associated with EuroAmerican Propagators have updated Greenhouse Grower on what the operation’s bankruptcy means for them – and how it will impact grower customers.

Read More