Is Low-Maintenance The Way To Reach The Millennial Generation?

Joe Lamp’l is creator, host and executive producer of the award winning PBS series Growing a Greener World, which focuses on the stories of people ,places and organizations that are doing good things for the planet, with an emphasis on gardening. As an industry leader in environmental media, he also shares his expertise on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Victory Garden and other national media.

Lamp’l talked with Greenhouse Grower about how our industry can grow its customer base by connecting with potential gardeners ­­­— and the Millennial generation in particular.

GG: What are some of the shared characteristics of Millennials?

JL: What we know in general, whether it’s the horticulture industry or the television industry or anything else is that this Millennial, the Generation Y group that is age 17 to 32 right now doesn’t have a lot of money and marriage and home buying aren’t top priorities. They’re into family, into doing things for others, but they’re sort of into self-expression rather than seeing what they can accumulate quickly.

A lot of industries are still trying to cater to them even though they’re not at the point yet where they’re spending a lot of money on our products. The reason why we need to really get their attention is to develop consistent buying patterns and loyalties to whatever our product and brand is so when they start spending money, they’re already loyal to us.

GG: What’s the best way to reach them, to get them interested in gardening?

JL: The reason our industry is so ripe for a little bit of a facelift is that Millennials are into self-expression. As an example, look at the way the food network as taken off. The whole food and restaurant scene is so hip and hot these days. I think television had a lot to do with making that happen by lifting up these celebrity chefs. You didn’t even hear that term ten years ago. Younger people are cooking now; it’s not just a dish — it’s a process in expression and creativity; it’s a whole experience.

There’s no reason why we can’t take that concept and bring it out into the garden and the landscape — because that’s where the real self-expression takes place. That’s where you can make a statement about who you are. It’s the first impression people get when they come to visit you and hang out on your balcony. Maybe you don’t have a house, but you have created a pallet garden on your balcony with some really cool succulents or edibles. Just like farmers’ markets can supply great ingredients for a food dish, we can supply ingredients for that young Millennial so they can put together a great creation with plants.

Millennials work really hard — they’re very driven. Yet at the same time, when they get their down time they want to slow down. You know, we have emphasized this low-maintenance, easy-gardening thing, but maybe that’s not really what they want. Maybe they want us to help them understand that this is part of a lifestyle — and it doesn’t have to be something where you just throw it in a pot and forget it.

GG: That does run counter to the message we’ve been hearing for a while now. How can we make the process of gardening appealing.

JL: It requires work on our part in the green industry to think of different plants and different ways to provide that inspiration so people can see it. People are visual. Most people aren’t creative enough to come up with this on their own, especially when they don’t know their choices. If we can give them the pieces and help show them the process, I think we’re going to make some great strides.

Going back to the food industry — you can’t just weigh out some ingredients in front of somebody and cut to the finished dish and say, “There you go.” People like to see the process — they like to see why one ingredient goes with another. They want to learn. The more they know the more empowered they feel to do it themselves. In our industry we just sort of hand them the planted container — the finished product and say, “Here you are.” Where’s the self-expression in that? If we can give them a container with the different ingredients and talk to them about the soil, the container, the things you can do to make your whole creation healthier — maybe that’s the link we can create outside that the chefs and the Food Network are doing inside. It makes the whole process sexier.

GG: Do you feel like the green industry is lagging behind other industries when it comes to marketing?

JL: Yes I do. I don’t think we’re doing as good a job as we could to make the experience of gardening desirable. We can all appreciate how a good landscape or a nice garden looks. I don’t think enough people understand that the process of getting there can be pleasureable. Definitely there’s some sweat and some dirty hands involved. But that can be a good thing.

Going back to the Millennials, they like getting their hands dirty however they get them dirty. Again, it’s a vehicle and outlet for self-expression. I don’t think the gardening industry gets that. They haven’t made gardening sexy like the food industry has at all. We need to show more young people gardening, telling what they like about the process. It’s not just the plants, it’s everything together. We’re just not telling the story right.

We need to get some cool-looking people involved in some marketing and advertising campaigns. Let’s face it — that’s what sells and everybody does it that way. They use sexy people to make the product sexy. That’s a huge opportunity that we’re missing there to help people see that our industry is cool and the products we provide for them are cool too.

GG: What do you say to growers who say, “There’s so many different ways to market. I don’t know where to begin —how do I know what works?”

JL: I say to growers, maybe you don’t worry as much about your advertising. You support the people — the retail garden center — that are buying your product who are connecting to the end user. You do the best job you can growing the best plants you can and see how you can support the retailer. It’s a partnership. Don’t stress out about not being so connected with social media, because frankly, the end user isn’t going to have a personal connection to the grower. But they do have a personal connection with their independent garden center. I think that’s where the social media comes in and where the real integration between product and end user happens. Growers need to provide the best support they can to make the retailer’s job as easy as possible so they can focus on the end user. Then it benefits everybody.

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
Bee Vectoring Technology Bumblebee

December 1, 2015

New Crop Protection Solution Uses Bees To Deliver Biocontrols To Flowering Crops

The new system from Bee Vectoring Technology incorporated a powdered crop protection material into the lid of commercial bumblebee hives. Bees pick up the product when they leave the hive and deposit it on every plant they visit.

Read More
Smith Gardens Marysville outdoor field production

November 30, 2015

Why Smith Gardens’ Marysville, WA, Facility Is A Great Place To Work

Labor rates in Washington State are some of the highest in the nation, making competition for labor fierce. This is why Smith Gardens in Marysville, WA, wants to strengthen its reputation as a great place to work.

Read More
Feature - Agave ‘Blue Waves’ (Rancho Tissue Technologies)

November 30, 2015

Spice Up The Garden With 12 New Succulent And Miniature Plant Varieties

New succulents and miniature plants for 2016 offer a variety of colors and foliage textures that add interest and visual appeal to any size garden — indoors or out.

Read More
Latest Stories
Giving Tuesday

November 24, 2015

Giving Tuesday On December 1 Is An Opportunity For The …

Organizations such as American Floral Endowment and others are encouraging industry members to participate in the generous spirit of the holiday season.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

November 24, 2015

Random Acts Of Flowers Partners With FTD And Pro Flower…

The organization, which recycles and repurposes flowers with a volunteer team that delivers bouquets to health care facilities across the country, made its 100,000th delivery to a health care facility in Chicago.

Read More
Kate Santos Operations Director Dummen Orange

November 18, 2015

Kate Santos Presents New Opportunities For The Horticul…

Dr. Kate Santos is a scientist, an artist, an advocate, a traveler, a dreamer, a visionary and a go-getter. Well-known for her work managing Dümmen Orange as Operations Director, Santos has taken on a new role as co-founder of Luxflora, an organization for women in horticulture.

Read More
Bell Nursery reaches out by supporting projects that help children connect with plants

November 12, 2015

Bell Nursery Is An Advocate For Outreach In Its Communi…

In a heavily regulated society, growing relationships is just as important to our industry as growing beautiful flowers. In environmentally sensitive states like Maryland, outreach has become mandatory, says Bell Nursery’s Gary Mangum.

Read More
Dave Armstrong Sakata Holding Corp.

November 5, 2015

Why Lobbying For Plant Breeding Is Important

Horticulture industry members who take the opportunity to advise Washington legislators on agricultural policy will find a surprisingly receptive audience.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 3, 2015

GrowIt! Announces Its 2015-2016 Plantastic Idea Scholar…

In 2014, GrowIt! was founded by two aspiring young horticulture professionals, Mason Day and Seth Reed. Their goal was to inspire more people to engage with plants in their daily lives. In the past year, more than 50,000 people have signed up for GrowIt!, using the app to find plants that will work well in their areas. With the app’s help, they have identified mystery plants identified and even made friends with other plant lovers around them. GrowIt! founders say their vision is coming true, and now they want to know about other young professionals’ ideas. GrowIt! announces the 2015/16 Plantastic Idea Scholarship, giving $1000 to three students. Reed and Day want to promote young minds that have big ideas in the world of plants. “Maybe as a student you want to work to promote high school horticulture programs around the nation,” the GrowIt! founders said in a press release. […]

Read More
AFE Scholarship

November 2, 2015

American Floral Endowment Awards Scholarships To 17 Flo…

The American Floral Endowment recently awarded scholarships totaling more than $37,000 to 17 undergraduate and graduate students across the country. The scholarships are intended for students pursuing degrees in floriculture and horticultural fields.

Read More
American Floral Endowment Emerging Leaders

October 23, 2015

American Floral Endowment Develops New Floriculture Bus…

The program offers a chance for floriculture companies to host an intern and help enthusiastic students contribute to both the organization and the floral industry.

Read More
A Modern Take On The Classic Garden Party

October 21, 2015

PlantNite Offers A Modern Take On The Classic Garden Pa…

PlantNite is a company that brings plants to the people by organizing 2-hour social events in local bars and restaurants.

Read More

October 21, 2015

Dümmen Orange Creates Fashion With Flowers At Fashion W…

As a feature sponsor for Fashion Week Columbus in Ohio, Dümmen Orange North America made a statement with its flower genetics in the spotlight. This was the first time Dümmen Orange partnered with Fashion Week Columbus in its 2015 events, held the week of October 3-10, 2015. Fashion Week Columbus is a non-profit organization showcasing local and emerging fashion designers while providing scholarships to fashion design students. Each year, Fashion Week Columbus hosts a week of fashion-related events to feature local talent in the Columbus, Ohio area. “A leader in the floriculture industry, Dümmen Orange is committed to breeding, distributing and promoting superior flower genetics,” says Dümmen Orange Operations Manager Kate Santos. “To do this, we strive to be in touch with contemporaries in the lifestyle industries. A large focus of this mission is to translate trends from fashion.” With more than 500 working fashion designers in the Columbus market, […]

Read More
Stephanie Whitehouse-Barlow, Peace Tree Farm

October 6, 2015

Generation Y’s Reluctance To Garden Linked To Fea…

The Rookie Gardener is easily spotted at a garden center by her nervous and unsure energy that’s as glaring as a scarlet letter, or by his exuberant, self-assured confidence that is only otherwise seen at a college fraternity party. They are our industry’s enigma, our Kryptonite, the treasure chest we cannot open. The Rookie Gardener’s reluctance to garden isn’t from our industry’s lack of targeted marketing or encouragement but from Millennials’ Fear of Failure (FOF). It is obvious that failure is a part of life, but we as a generation have been programmed to not expect or accept failure. Since early childhood, we were encouraged to always win, to do our absolute best at school every day, to beat the competition. “Focused on getting the grades or winning the game, these children have internalized the pressure, (which) paralyzes kids in their ability to take risks,” writes Holly Korbey in an […]

Read More

October 6, 2015

NASA Scientists To Discuss Indoor Agriculture Innovatio…

The University of Arizona’s Controlled Environmental Agriculture Center (CEAC) will host Dr. Jacklyn Green, CEO and founder of Agate Biosciences, and Dr. Roger Kern, president and founder of Agate Biosciences: Science & Systems Engineering, on October 30, as part of its seminar series. Both Green and Kern are former NASA scientists and engineers, and they will discuss their continuing efforts to develop technology and seek innovations to address issues concerning urban indoor agriculture, with a potential for application on Mars. Through the creation of Agate Biosciences LLC, Kern and Green have turned their attention to earth-bound issues of food production, to provide advanced technologies for plant nutrition, biosecurity and the undertaking of scientifically based research in greenhouse design and controls systems, and in plant health under controlled environment agriculture. A recent NASA news release reports that the Mars Rover 2020 mission is planned to deliver an extensive array of instruments designed to explore the habitability […]

Read More
Rebecca Lusk

September 22, 2015

Trailblazer Rebecca Lusk Of Luxflora And Dümmen Orange …

Rebecca Lusk of Luxflora and Dümmen Orange is no stranger to breaking new ground, whether it's in her own company or in forming an organization that gives women in horticulture a united voice.

Read More

September 14, 2015

Smith Gardens Is Developing Growers With A New Initiati…

Finding enough qualified growers has long been a problem in the industry, but it’s one that Smith Gardens is working to solve, at least locally. The operation, which ranks No. 22 on Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers list, is the largest in the Pacific Northwest, and spans more than 50 acres of greenhouses and 50 acres of field growing over four locations in Washington, Oregon and California. As a 112-year-old family business that recognizes the need to invest in its future, Smith Gardens has made its Cultivating The Future initiative a corporate priority to attract young people to careers in the horticulture industry. Don Spence, the production manager at Smith Gardens’ Aurora, Ore., location, started working with local schools years ago. The operation expanded its program to local community colleges, and this year Smith Gardens worked with the American Floral Endowment to set up an internship program, and hosted an […]

Read More
Smartphones may influence kids’ decisions about food

September 12, 2015

To Understand Your Next Consumers, Look Beyond Millenni…

There seems to be a constant stream of content in the media about Millennials and their habits and characteristics, particularly as consumers. But, what if they’re not the ones to be focusing on? A recent article in Food Business News is saying that they’re not. Instead, it suggests shifting the focus to the next generation. The article states that, according to bestselling author Matt Walsh, the most disruptive group of future food consumers was born in 2007. With gardening consumers becoming increasingly interested growing their own food, changes to the food industry will likely impact the horticulture industry, as well. “If you understand how an 8-year-old thinks, you’re a long way toward really understanding a transformative change in consumer behavior,” says Walsh, CEO of innovation research lab Tomorrow, during a July 13 presentation at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago. When an 8-year-old makes […]

Read More

September 2, 2015

Delegation Is Key To A Successful Greenhouse Operation

In a packed room at Cultivate’15, speaker Bernie Erven presented key steps growers need to take to improve their delegation skills, the benefits of delegating and the dangers of not learning how to delegate. This is a skill, he says, that everyone needs to learn. “For all of you who are part of a family business, you are choosing not to do things the easy way,” Erven laughed, as he presented a list of ways to know whether or not you’re an effective delegator. The owner of Erven HR Services, LLC, Erven has been working with and observing family businesses for many years. In his presentation, he said, he didn’t share anything that he hasn’t seen first-hand. You might not be a good delegator if you: Tend to be a perfectionist Work more hours than anyone else Lack time to explain clearly and concisely Are often interrupted Enjoy what you used to […]

Read More
Marc van Iersel

September 1, 2015

GROwing Floriculture Research And Extension

Research and outreach efforts help keep floriculture production profitable. With seemingly continuous budget cuts to university and federal budgets, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to sustain their programs and to keep making a positive impact on the industry. So what can be done to ensure that the industry will keep getting the research and outreach support it has come to rely on? There already is a variety of funding programs that support research and Extension programs in our industry. This funding is critical for many floriculture research and outreach programs. What can we do to leverage that funding and make sure it has the biggest possible impact? A program that I was part of in 2010 may serve as a model. LAUNCH was co-founded by NASA, NIKE, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State as a program to help make innovative ideas become a […]

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
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]