Sustainability, Reaching Customers Matter To Gen Y

Radka Martinova

My name is Radka Martinova. I am 23 years old and from Bulgaria. I am an intern in the U.S. through the Ohio Program. To be honest, it has been the best experience in my life. I met a lot of new friends, learned more about the country and its culture and, of course, improved my English. I am currently working in a retail store in Ohio. We sell a lot of different plants that are delivered from greenhouses and farms.

The State Of The Industry

Everyone is familiar with the economic crisis that struck North America and then the rest of the world. The U.S. is still impacted by the economic conditions in Europe. The green industry is going through a soft recovery. Until that settles down, people live with some anxiety, and that keeps them from buying. I noticed some costumers consider our pricey products a luxury. Most of them pick a smaller version of the same plant or choose a more affordable one. The greenhouse industry is facing low consumer confidence and high fuel prices at the same time. The latter impacts both consumers and producers.  Many companies are looking at innovative ways to streamline production and reduce costs. This is no longer an option; it`s a necessity. There are three important issues to point out:

Energy efficiency. Companies have to try to become more energy efficient. This will not only save money, but it will also protect the environment.

Water and water storage. Some states experience water deficiency. The problem with water storage arises. Like the problems associated with energy efficiency, improvements in the collection and use of water are also required. These efforts will help in the short and long-term.

Cultivating new customers. The problem of future generations is a result of macro demographics in the country. The Baby Boomers have pretty much bought everything they need from us. They secured the growth of plant purchases over the last few decades, but nowadays, they are getting more and more out of the game. At the same time, there are few people in Generation-X than during the Boomers’ era. It’s a basic function of supply and demand. Demand is down because there are fewer people demanding what is being sold. Research says that the U.S. will have five to eight more years of this demographic downshift until the population gets old enough to buy houses. Then they will want to purchase plants in the larger quantities that growers are able to supply.

Unfortunately, living in such a fast-paced environment also takes its toll. People are less interested in gardening, as they hardly find time to do it. The bar is being set lower. One gets satisfied with less. Why plant flowers in the bed when I can buy ready-to-go containers and place them on the front porch or back patio? Thinking this way leads people to buy fewer things. In other words, the industry earns a smaller profit.

How To Reach Customers

There is a need to cultivate new customers. In my opinion, the industry should focus on young people because we are the future. Times are changing and so are we. If a company wants to prosper, it has to have the right people on its side. Younger people get into things faster. They would know better what consumers want. For example, I quickly learned what customers want in my store, and after the first two months, I was already giving some suggestions to managers. That was a huge step forward for me because there are employees with a lot more experience, but the customers trusted me. I felt really proud of myself.

At the 2012 OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio, I met a representative from one of the companies at the show. He told the company has a policy of hiring younger people in many of their departments. He also acknowledged that such a policy will help the company improve. I am glad that these policies are being implemented.

Another way to cultivate new customers is for growers to distinguish themselves from the competition. The operations need to offer better service and gather feedback from retailers. This, I believe, will build strong relationships between the two sides. Then more retailers would be willing to do business with certain growers. Research people`s opinions or thoughts. See what they want and what they like. Understand them better, so you can offer better service. By taking these steps, I believe growers can cultivate new customers. Nothing`s easy but it’s worth trying.


Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
Gaillardia x grandiflora 'Arizona Apricot'

February 25, 2015

National Garden Bureau Designates 2015 As Year Of The Gaillardia

Gaillardia, also known as the blanket flower, is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and a long-blooming pollinator plant. It is fitting that the National Garden Bureau has specified 2015 as The Year of the Gaillardia.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Annual Meeting Date

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
Evolvulus Blue My Mind

February 24, 2015

Blue Ribbon Bloomers For Greenhouse Production

Grow what consumers want! Surveys show that blue is one of the top preferred colors of today’s consumers. Here are twelve top recommended blue-flowering Proven Winners annuals and perennials to suit your spring production cycle.

Read More
Latest Stories

February 12, 2015

GROW Perspective: What Is It You Do Again?

The industry is very good at talking about what we do and how we do it, but has almost completely lost touch with talking about why this work is important. As an industry, we need to promote our professions as vital to healthier living.

Read More
bee photo

February 11, 2015

26 Ways Growers Improve The Green Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW Initiative’s five pillars: How are you driving consumer success, cultivating new customers, demanding quality, investing in the industry and sharpening business management? Through your candid responses, we learned about some of the ideas you’ve implemented and steps you’re taking for 2015. Here are just a few.

Read More
Noble Foundation

February 3, 2015

Lloyd Noble Scholars Program Application Period Now Ope…

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is offering college students an opportunity to work side-by-side with the Noble Foundation’s renowned agricultural consultants and researchers through the Lloyd Noble Scholars in Agriculture program, a summer internship that provides students the opportunity to enhance their in-class education with real-world application and experiences.

Read More

January 7, 2015

GROW Summit 2014 Homes In On The Issues That Keep You U…

During Greenhouse Grower’s third annual GROW Summit in December a number of ideas, questions and calls-to-action transpired. Here are a few of the highlights.

Read More

January 6, 2015

Growers Resolve To Educate Public About Their Operation…

See what growers plan to work on for their 2015 business resolutions.

Read More

December 22, 2014

National Garden Bureau Launches Therapeutic Garden Prog…

National Garden Bureau has chosen the Growing Solutions Farm in Chicago as the first beneficiary of its annual fundraising effort "Growing For Futures."

Read More

December 19, 2014

Hydroponic Food Production Course Serves Up Life Lesson…

Students in the new HORT 331X Hydroponic Food Crop Production course at Iowa State University are producing more food than they can eat, so they began donating the vegetables they produce to a local food pantry and free meal program.

Read More

December 8, 2014

“The Cheapest Generation” Will Be Tomorrow&…

Members of the Millennial generation aren’t buying cars and houses the way their parents did, and according to a recent article from The Atlantic titled “The Cheapest Generation,” it might be more than an effect of a bad economy. So what does this mean for horticulture? Industry members weigh in.

Read More
Katie Nickolaus

November 25, 2014

Proven Winners Names 2014 Scholarship Winners

Looking to promote industry leaders of the future, Proven Winners has established a $15,000 scholarship program that awards students in three distinct areas - breeding, marketing and growing.

Read More

November 24, 2014

GROW Perspective: We Need To Think Bigger

Garry Grueber of Cultivaris and Global Breadfruit says the horticulture industry must evolve to help solve the problems of world hunger and food insecurity.

Read More

November 13, 2014

NY SunWorks’ Greenhouse Project Aims To Build 100 Labs …

NY SunWork's Greenhouse Project aims to build 100 labs by 2020. With 15 greenhouse project labs built and 11 more in development, it’s on its way to reaching that goal.

Read More

November 4, 2014

Millennials Rank Gardening Among Top 5 Leisure Activiti…

United Kingdom consumers, aged 25 to 35, have rated gardening as a top five favorite leisure activity.

Read More
Ken Altman

October 27, 2014

GROW Perspective: Why I Give Back To The Industry

Ken Altman of Altman Plants knows a thing or two about the green industry, including the importance of contributing to the industry he loves.

Read More

October 21, 2014

Plants, Gardens Of The Future Will Be Radically Differe…

Over the next 20 to 30 years, Garry Grueber of Cultivaris and Global Breadfruit says the horticulture industry will need to address such issues as population growth, feeding a hungry world, less availability of water and land resources, rampant climate change and increased focus on the environment and sustainability.

Read More

October 13, 2014

Costa Farms Celebrates Indoor Plant Week With A College…

Cost Farms kicks off 2014 Indoor Plant Week by sharing plants with college students amid song and dance.

Read More

October 7, 2014

Ohio State Horticulture Senior Receives Prestigious Shi…

Amy Miller, a senior majoring in horticulture at The Ohio State University, is the recipient of the 2014-15 Shinoda Scholar of the Year award.

Read More

September 2, 2014

Svensson Film Raises Awareness of Global Production Cha…

Anders Ludvigson, Svensson’s executive vice president, is on a mission to raise awareness of the challenge growers have producing more food using fewer resources. To start, he set out with a film crew to explore some of the climates where commercial greenhouse growers use the company’s products.

Read More

September 2, 2014

Six Lessons Learned From LeBron’s Decision 2.0

Die-hard Cavaliers fan and Cleveland native Bill Calkins explains how the headline-making decision LeBron James’ made to leave the Miami Heat and play in his hometown relates to your business.

Read More