December 9, 2011

3 Ways To Make Commodities Premium Items

Marc Clark, executive vice president of Rocket Farms in Salinas, Calif., offers advice to add value to your product: 1 Reposition existing plants. Bring outdoor plants inside with smaller, more compact varieties like sunflowers and coleus. Repackage them in ceramic pots or baskets. Most consumers won’t care that a sunflower is typically planted outdoors. If it’s packaged properly, consumers will accept it as a new product. Remember: Water used to come from drinking fountains; now we pay more than $1 for a plastic bottle full of it. This was unthinkable just a few decades ago. 2 Take advantage of containers and packaging. Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but ordinary commodity plants can become extraordinary with clever use of containers and packaging, including racks and shelf talkers. Ball Horticultural Co.’s seed and vegetative catalog is full of hundreds of varieties of inexpensive commodity items that can be potted up into decorative […]

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December 9, 2011

5 Takeaways To Re-energize Your Business

1 Cultivate New Customers By Examining Other Industries Tom Smith, the president of Top 100 Grower Four Star Greenhouse and a partner in Proven Winners, is adamant about greenhouse floriculture doing a better job of driving consumer success (page 16). But he’s also a proponent of cultivating new customers by looking for answers outside our industry. “We need to follow what every other industry has had success with,” Smith says, “We need to look at grocery, clothes, hobby, decorating–they all have looks in their stores and environments that make it very favorable to shop. More favorable than garden centers that merchandise their products from A to Z.” 2Drive Consumer Success By Categorizing Consumers Top 100 Grower Metrolina Greenhouses has broken consumers down into two categories: decorators and diggers. “We definitely see those two trends continuing, so we’re developing products and lines to accommodate both groups,” says Mariah Holland, Metrolina’s marketing […]

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December 9, 2011

Rolling Carts, Weekend Deliveries Are Musts

Growers need to continue to improve on efficiencies that will have a mutual benefit to both the retailer and the grower. Some of these efficiencies include: - Delivering product on rolling carts to help save time unloading. - Bar coding product by color and variety. This can help both the retailer and the grower gather more information and make more informed decisions. - Making weekend deliveries. This is especially important during the peak season. Weekend deliveries help growers because automobile traffic is lighter on the weekends. So growers can spend more time delivering and less time in traffic. We have a close relationship with our principle growers. We believe it’s very important to be partners with our best growers. They know we expect the highest quality product at a fair price. We work together to offer promotional items, and our best vendors help us keep in stock by offering us […]

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December 9, 2011

8 Ways To Speak To Consumers

I attend trade shows that revolve around fashion, design and gifts. Why? For inspiration and ideas. I truly believe if we only stick to the horticulture industry for our ideas, we will severely limit our sources of inspiration and potentially miss important changes in consumer expectations. While attending a New York gift show recently, I was struck by how many different products, gadgets and packaging were geared to solutions for a consumer who is starved for time. Convenience seems to be a general theme, and convenience certainly lends itself to gardening. Here are eight ways to provide such convenience and other factors consumers are looking for: 1 Speak Plainly Our consumer wants the look of a beautiful garden but, frankly, doesn’t have the time to research what will work. We need to educate her in simple terms with how-to recipes that include her ingredients (plants) and specifically how to plant […]

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December 9, 2011

Know Your Customer Before You Sell

The general manager at Roger’s Gardens in Corona Del Mar, Calif., weighs in on the factors that make a greenhouse grower an elite vendor. GG: As an independent garden center retailer, what factors make a grower-retailer relationship extraordinary? RV: To have a long-term, sustainable relationship all three parties must gain significant benefit from the arrangement. Unfortunately, many companies approach with a hidden win-lose agenda. We think everyone needs to win. In a retail business these parties are the shopper, the vendor and the retailer. All need to benefit. If even one of the three is subsidizing the others, the relationship will ultimately dissolve. We maintain a relationship of integrity with all of our vendors. We do what we say we are going to do. It sounds simple, but it’s not. We are upfront and honest at all times–good or bad. We also pay our bills –and on time. That’s part […]

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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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