December 9, 2011

4 Stores That Get Their Customers

Sephora: Creating Custom Experiences Sephora isn’t all that different from a garden center. The store carries a seemingly endless supply of beauty products, all from a variety of different vendors. So what does Sephora do so well? It educates consumers on how to apply products in store for maximum impact. It also creates an emotional experience for shoppers, which encourages them to pay a premium price for makeup, perfume and other beauty supplies. Samples are a huge part of Sephora’s business. It allows customers to try on products, either by themselves or with the help of associates. It has easy-to-read instructions on makeup application to take away the intimidation factor, and the handout includes space for writing down product details so customers can come back and find exactly what they need, time after time. The Sephora model can be replicated in the garden center with mixed containers, or even small […]

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December 9, 2011

Why We Must Invest In The Industry

Our industry has been blessed, particularly by the nation’s demographics. In fact, the “birth” of the modern green industry coincides with the first years of the Baby Boomer generation. The Baby Boomers (birth years roughly 1946 to 1964) were the largest generation in America’s history. The disruption (favorable and unfavorable) caused by this population bulge has been likened to a “pig moving through the demographic python.” For our industry, Baby Boomers have led to suburbia, Disneyland, office parks, town house associations, golf courses, second homes and, finally, McMansions. Without all these developments, our industry would not be what it has become. However, this demographic blessing is temporal, not eternal. It’s ending dramatically–not only for our industry, but for the entire nation. The Generation X population cohort (born 1964 -1983) has 9 million fewer people in it. The rate of household formation in the Gen X generation is dramatically less, meaning […]

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December 9, 2011

Let’s Partner With New Groups

There are a wide variety of organizations at the local and state levels that can provide additional marketing opportunities for growers. Connecting with these groups may bring added sales and will certainly expand the visibility of your company. Savvy growers will also arm themselves with data about how flowers, plants and trees contribute to the economic well being of communities (America in Bloom, for example, publishes this information on its website). A suggested list of organizations includes the local and state chapters of the American Society of Landscape Architects, National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors. Other entities to consider are larger homeowners associations and local organizations committed to beautification and green infrastructure like America in Bloom, Keep America Beautiful, National Garden Clubs, Master Gardeners and Tree City USA. Many of these groups have monthly lunch or dinner meetings at which you can network with potential […]

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December 8, 2011

Wenke’s QR Codes Instilling Two-Way Confidence

There is a lot of interest in QR codes these days in every market, from home entertainment and fashion to health, beauty, food and travel. Marketers and brand managers are embracing this technology as a compelling way to link products to the Internet, dynamically engaging customers in the brand and providing more information that builds loyalty and inspires purchasing. The link to the internet is especially important in gardening, where there is much to learn and little space available. Until now, it’s been virtually impossible to fit everything a gardener needs to know on plant tags, which are already packed with important care and handling information. Still, inspiration, design ideas and gardening knowledge have been missing where customers need them most–in the garden center, where they are making buying decisions. Customers are confused and frustrated. Wenke Greenhouses is one grower who recognizes the potential of the connection between print and […]

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December 8, 2011

A Gardening Website To Educate Novices

GG: Why is it important for growers and the industry to help consumers with our garden products? Giorgio: Our research indicates more than 75 percent of gardeners consider themselves between novice and moderately experienced. That is a huge segment of garden center shoppers needing help in selecting and successfully growing the plants they purchase. If gardeners are successful, everyone benefits. GG: Why did MasterTag decide to build a website at MyGardenInsider.com as a garden resource for consumers? Giorgio: Throughout our 62-year history, we have been focused on the gardener. The website is another evolution of MasterTag as a gardening resource. The advances in technology, such as QR codes and how information is communicated at the point of sale and elsewhere, were big motivators in our effort with the website. MasterTag is the curator and archivist for an enormous amount of horticultural content. MyGardenInsider.com makes it easy for growers to tap […]

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December 8, 2011

Why We Must Drive Consumer Success

I’ve been thinking a lot about Steve Jobs lately, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I think about the wonderful products he created that changed our world. I remember him talking about how important it was for his customers to be successful with his products. It’s easy to be successful with Apple products because they’re designed to be that way. I see my 91-year-old father and my 84-year-old mother easily navigate an iPad. You hear stories of 1-year-olds doing the same. My favorite story is about parents who noticed their baby swiping a page in a book and clearly expecting the picture to change. Does that define making customers successful with a product? We know it does. Where Our Industry Fails I also think about how often our industry fails to do what Apple has done. We become overly focused on price and lack focus on how to make our […]

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December 8, 2011

Academic Team Dedicated To Sustainability Research

Purdue University’s Roberto Lopez, the University of New Hampshire’s Brian Krug, the University of Maine’s Stephanie Burnett and Cornell University’s Neil Mattson established the Floriculture Sustainability Research Coalition (FSRC) three years ago. The FSRC’s goal is to provide information to the greenhouse industry about sustainable growing and business practices through multi-state research and Extension activities. Here’s a look at yet another research group worth supporting and some of the projects they’re working on: Low Or No-Heat Bedding Plant Production Multi-year and collaborative research at Cornell and Purdue is shedding light on how growers in temperate climates can finish high-quality, sustainably produced bedding plants and hanging baskets with low or no heat for the Mother’s Day market. Mattson, Lopez and their students are quantifying time to flower and growth difference between bedding plants produced in a greenhouse with a temperature set point of 65°F and an unheated high tunnel.  Figure 1, […]

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December 8, 2011

Berry Family Building Brand Around Simplification

Packaging, merchandising and marketing all play a huge role in consumer success, and the way the Berry Family of Nurseries handles Forever & Ever Plants is a good example of a grower embracing those elements. The Berry Family of Nurseries partnered with Horticultural Printers to design a consistent, cohesive look to build elevate the brand. The Horticultural Printers team helped the Berry Family of Nurseries design tags, signage, trade ads, brochures, a consumer website and even a tradeshow booth. “There is a narrow window of opportunity to capture an audience’s attention in today’s fast-paced world,” says Brett Jones, vice president of sales and marketing at the Berry Family of Nurseries. “Our informative, integrated marketing program attracts, educates and promotes success and satisfaction at both the retail and consumer levels.” The Forever & Ever brand’s plant tags feature multiple product-in-action pictures and include 2D mobile tagging codes linking to the Forever […]

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December 8, 2011

2 Technologies That Keep Consumers Engaged

The Burpee Home Garden Coach With increasing food prices and a trend toward consumers growing their own vegetables, Ball Horticultural Co. wanted to cultivate the consumer’s success by helping gardeners enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. Through Burpee Home Garden Coach, Ball’s veggie-growing division discovered the secret to winning: constant, consistent management. “To make today’s gardeners more successful, we can’t abandon them as soon as they purchase the plant,” says Diane Hund, Ball’s director of marketing. “Once we knew that, we simply had to choose the delivery vehicle. We had all of the information online, but that requires the user to sift through pages to find the right data. By knowing a bit about the consumer–where they live, what they planted and when–we can send fairly specific information that will increase their success. Texting is simply the most up-to-date way to deliver the information.” Burpee debuted its Burpee Home […]

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December 8, 2011

The Best Research Results Require Your Patience

I have been involved with the Floriculture Research Alliance (FRA) for three years.  I wholeheartedly support their efforts because as a grower, I need unbiased, rigorous and well-designed research that helps me solve current problems. I need research that is creative and challenges my assumptions about how my growing system operates. My research dollars go primarily to Erik Runkle at Michigan State University, and I don’t put too many specific demands on how he uses the money. Part of my reasoning for this is that a lot of the creativity is being driven out of research because of a demand for the instant result. But good research doesn’t work this way. It’s a process of discovery that takes time to unravel. Good research often takes unexpected turns with unforeseen outcomes. My investment gives me firsthand access to the research results and the researchers. This is important! The FRA even takes […]

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December 8, 2011

2 Examples Of Using Social Media To Its Fullest

Fiskars Fisk-A-Teers Fiskars has enlisted some of its biggest fans to serve as brand ambassadors, in its Fisk-A-Teers social brand. Fiskars says it hopes to open the lines of communication with the people who use their crafting products. “We want to know about being a crafter/mom/working woman, and what you like about us and what you don’t,” the site says. “We can take it. Promise.” Included under the Fisk-A-Teers program is a message board, gallery of user-submitted images, a blog that includes YouTube video tutorials on craft projects. There’s also a resource center where users can download graphics for scrapbooking and icons users can place on their blogs and websites that brand them as Fisk-A-Teers. Explore what it’s all about at Fiskateers.com/blog. Well-Pict Berries On Facebook The Well-Pict Berries Facebook page is a home base for all of its social network channels–Twitter, videos, photos, discussion boards and poll questions. Well-Pict […]

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December 8, 2011

Why We Must Cultivate New Customers

The green side of our industry isn’t growing. We can blame the economy–and that’s part of the problem–but there are bigger issues we need to address, too. Our customer base is changing. The 80 million people in the Baby Boomer generation have fueled the greenhouse industry over the last couple of decades. But now they’re moving into retirement. They’re not gardening like they used to. Generation X is barely half the size, so even if we can interest them in gardening like the Boomers–which is debatable–we’re going to have to get twice as many of them buying our plants just to break even. Generation Y is bigger, but they’re years away from being a market driver. We must acknowledge the facts we see around us. The consumer today is not as interested in gardening. You can blame the economy, and I do. But I also wonder if people have just […]

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