Why We Must Cultivate New Customers

Jeff Warschauer

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 run out of time for having a beautiful landscaped garden in their yard. They go get a couple $50 containers and put them on the front stoop. Maybe they buy a couple of baskets because they have to look good to their neighbors. Hopefully they do the same for the back patio. But that’s the extent of it.

Convert Consumers To Customers

We need to find ways to appeal to new generations of consumers and create new customers. We have to be able to look at the different market segments and the different customers and ask, “What would they want? Why would they want to buy my plants?”

For me, those questions are easier to ask than to answer, in large part because I am not that customer. I can study. I can think I understand it. But I can’t walk in those shoes. How do we do it? We need to hire some of these people to help us understand. As an industry, if we’re going to go after Gen X, Gen Y or Gen Whatever, we have to have these younger people–who understand exactly what those consumers want– on our management teams.

Create Partners With Service

But our efforts need to go beyond appealing to consumers. What can you as a grower do to cultivate new retailer customers for your business?
With all the great genetics out there, along with mechanization and education, there are many good growers today. So what sets you and your business apart from the rest? Why should a retailer buy from you? You either have to have a lower price–which you don’t want to do–or you have to show the retail customer that by doing business with you, you are going to help him increase sales.

As a grower, you need to be more than a plant supplier. Consider a business model where you help your customers stock and merchandise their stores. Show them how to set themselves apart from their competitors. Provide benches. Charge a fee and help them do a better job merchandising plants. You’re not just a provider of plant material anymore. You’re not a wholesaler. You’re a partner.

To begin growing our industry and our businesses again, we need to find new customers–consumers and retailers–in completely new places. We will have to learn who they are, and understand what they want. We need to help them, whether it’s providing new products in new ways, or helping retailers serve their customers. We need to be visionaries.

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More

July 9, 2016

Market The Experience Of Gardening, Minus The Fuss

Greenhouse Grower editor Laura Drotleff says the industry should promote plants and gardening in bite-size chunks that help consumers build skills.

Read More
Latest Stories
Workers

July 23, 2016

5 Reasons To Invest In Employee Training

Training and developing your employees is critical to the future success of your organization and the horticulture industry at large. Here are five reasons why your employees are worth the effort.

Read More
BeeSmart

July 21, 2016

How You Can Get Involved In Research

The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) supports scientific research and students for the advancement of the horticultural industry.

Read More

July 9, 2016

Market The Experience Of Gardening, Minus The Fuss

Greenhouse Grower editor Laura Drotleff says the industry should promote plants and gardening in bite-size chunks that help consumers build skills.

Read More
Grower Education

July 7, 2016

Two Industry Veterans Discuss How To Meet The Challenge…

Two industry players have a conversation on how we can deliver the level of grower education needed to address complex issues associated with production practices and pest management strategies.

Read More
'Violets Pride' from Week's Roses Downton Abbey Garden Rose Collection

July 6, 2016

6 Key Insights From The Generations Of Flowers Study

Being local and offering expert recommendations are hidden opportunities in the floral business. This was one of six insights during a recent webinar analyzing the Generations of Flowers study from the Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Sakata Birthday Cake Feature

May 28, 2016

10 Creative Marketing Ideas From 2016 California Spring…

Grower-retailers often look to breeders for ideas on how to increase plant sales with smart marketing plans. The California Spring Trials were filled with great concepts to reach customers.

Read More
HGTV_2015CAST

April 24, 2016

9 Business Predictions Smart Brands Should Pay Attentio…

Andreas von der Heydt, Director of Kindle at Amazon, recently predicted what smart businesses will do in 2016 to strengthen their brands and promote their products.

Read More
Lin Schmale 1996

April 23, 2016

SAF’s Lin Schmale Offers Lessons From An Industry…

Schmale represented the floriculture industry on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. The advocate has recently retired, and shares some valuable insights from her career.

Read More
An Edible Evening At Stephen F Austin

April 11, 2016

How The Greenhouse Industry Can Propagate Gardeners The…

Jared Barnes at Stephen F. Austin University says we are the experts at propagating plants. That’s knowledge we can put to good use to envision how to attract new gardeners and future horticulturists to the industry.

Read More
Congressional Action Days 2016

April 5, 2016

Floral Industry Leaders Make Progress And (In Some Case…

Nearly 90 floral industry members gathered in the nation’s capital in March to meet with lawmakers in the annual event coordinated by the Society of American Florists.

Read More
Student Video Horticulture Education

April 2, 2016

Use Videos Featuring Your Millennial Employees To Recru…

Your Millennial employees may be the best spokespeople you have for your business. Why not encourage them to make a 30-second video talking about why they got into horticulture?

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

March 25, 2016

American Floral Endowment Will Fund Research Projects A…

AFE’s primary research funding priorities cover everything from pest control to production management. Funding applications are due June 1.

Read More
kendall farms

March 12, 2016

3 Grower Brands That Give Customers What They Want

With product information, reviews, and price comparisons at their fingertips, Millennials are turning to brands that can offer maximum convenience at the lowest cost.

Read More
NatureFresh Internship Program

March 8, 2016

NatureFresh Develops Innovative, Interactive Program Fo…

Through WeAreTheGrower.com, students can get hands-on experience connecting with consumers at community events, and sharing their experiences via social media.

Read More
Kristine Lonergan, Garden State Growers

March 7, 2016

How To Make Your Brand Connect With Millennials

Marketing to tech-savvy Millennials means paying attention to their shopping habits and motivations to build relationships that help them connect with gardening.

Read More
Uber provides value to consumers by making their lives better

March 6, 2016

How To Market To Both Millennials And Boomers

While Millennials have become the all-important generation among many marketers, there are some important parallels that can be drawn between Millennials and Boomers.

Read More
This row of tomatoes with large fruit load is part of an on-going project with DeRuiter Seed Co

February 24, 2016

University Of Arizona’s Greenhouse Crop Production &…

The annual event features a comprehensive educational program as well as a hands-on workshop. Registration is now open.

Read More
Carol Miller

February 16, 2016

Why America Needs Plant Evangelists

If we want to have more people buying plants, we can’t sit back and hope for change. We need to share our passion with individual communities and spark a love for plants.

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