Marketing And Plant Quality Go Hand-In-Hand

Jerry MontgomerySome of the best-managed greenhouse businesses in the industry realize one thing that many others either don’t recognize, or if they do, they pay little attention it: Being a great grower is no longer a competitive advantage. In fact, it has become a disadvantage for those companies that use this idea as their driving business strategy.

Growing great plants is not a competitive advantage; it’s a ticket to play, which allows a company to be in the game. Not to say growing good plants is not important. It is, but you cannot develop a sustainable competitive advantage through product quality alone.

When is the last time someone heard a national retailer say, “We buy from that grower just because they grow great plants?” Quality just isn’t the primary reason for vendor selection. If that were the case, the vendor base for national retailers would look different than it is today.

Successful growers today do grow good consistent product quality, but they know that alone will not keep them profitable. They understand that an amalgamation of all the business disciplines is necessary to grow and prosper. One of the most important, but often underutilized, business disciplines is the function of marketing — and the most successful growers have become really good at it.

Marketing is about understanding the market, the current product mix and the development of future products based on customer needs and competitive forces; the channels of distribution to be used; the people including customers and employees and how they are positioned; and lastly developing price models that work in the selected channels of distribution.

Great Marketers In Floriculture
There is a notable influx of good marketing personnel from outside the industry because typically, the grower sector has not been keen on hiring those who were not “plant geeks.” The lack of marketing talent is an issue of the industry not seeking out marketing expertise or, in some cases, not understanding their potential value.

One of the best marketing managers this industry has ever seen is Ben Walraven, who is now retired from PanAmerican Seed and was the architect and driving force behind the launch and development of the Wave brand. Walraven came to Pan American Seed after stints in marketing at PPG and Monsanto and my contention is no one person did more to change how seed products are marketed.

That being said, let’s look at some of companies in the industry that are great marketers:
• Ball Horticultural Co. with its Wave brand and Nature’s Source organic fertilizer

• Four Star Greenhouse, Pleasant View Gardens and EuroAmerican Propagators with their Proven Winners brand

• Star Roses with its Knock Out Rose brand

• Dümmen with its Confetti brand

All of these companies place a high level of importance on marketing but also perform the other business disciplines well.

Growers With Marketing Talent
View: Jerry Montgomery On Big Box RetailingIn the grower sector, there are some great success stories from companies that have included marketing in their management approach:

• Metrolina Greenhouses with its consumer panels, trial garden, The Color Of The Pot Tells How Hot pepper program and investment in an outstanding marketing staff

• Green Circle Growers, the developer of the Just Add Ice Orchid brand

• Bell Nursery, one of the first to use social media to attract consumers to Home Depot stores

• Costa Farms’ Plants Of Steel brand, O2 for You brand, Water Wick watering system for house plants and a huge social media endeavor

• Bonnie Farms with the only national vegetable brand available in all states

• Altman Nursery with its Smart Plant brand, the Backyard Fresh vegetable program at Lowe’s and the originator of the Viva brand, available at every Home Depot

These are just some of the examples of growers who have discovered the benefits of integrating a strong marketing presence in their organizations. And, of course, they all grow really good plants.

An important element in the marketing process for those who serve the national retailers is the function of merchandising. This has separated the high performance vendors from the low performers and is just one example of the impact of great marketing.

Some of the top-performing vendors to serve the national retailers whom I have observed in my travel to more 5,000 retail garden centers since 2006 are:

• Metrolina Greenhouses

• Masterpiece Floral

• Bell Nursery

• Grand Flowers

• Tagawa Greenhouses

• Smith Gardens

Marketing + Plant Quality = Success

Serving the national retailers is a cadre of, by my estimate, 35 vendors in the bedding plant and perennial sectors, and these numbers will decline over time. So unless there is strict attention to developing a business that performs well in all business disciplines including marketing, the chance of many businesses thriving or even surviving is diminished.

Breeders and brand managers control the introduction and selection of most green goods products with the national retailers, only because growers have not been as proactive in presenting new and innovative products. Not placing much emphasis on the function of marketing has resulted in the abdication of new product development, so consequently, it has moved upstream to the breeders.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Business Management...
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New Regulations

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More
LuxFlora - feature

August 22, 2016

Check Out Luxflora’s International Adventures In Europe

A new, women-led professional organization provides its members the opportunity to gain insight, develop ideas, and build connections on its annual international trip.

Read More
MasterTag booth at Cultivate'16

August 17, 2016

5 Nuggets Of Wisdom From Cultivate’16

Here are five sweet pieces from the movers and shakers at Cultivate'16 to help improve your greenhouse business.

Read More
Latest Stories
Penn State Plant Bud

August 23, 2016

AmericanHort Is Helping Plant Importers Adjust To New R…

A report from Craig Regelbrugge at AmericanHort says the government is implementing a streamlined system for imports, in which all required data will be submitted electronically through a single window.

Read More
LuxFlora - feature

August 22, 2016

Check Out Luxflora’s International Adventures In Europe

A new, women-led professional organization provides its members the opportunity to gain insight, develop ideas, and build connections on its annual international trip.

Read More
MasterTag booth at Cultivate'16

August 17, 2016

5 Nuggets Of Wisdom From Cultivate’16

Here are five sweet pieces from the movers and shakers at Cultivate'16 to help improve your greenhouse business.

Read More
Cannabis ForwardGro

August 16, 2016

ForwardGro Receives License From Maryland Medical Canna…

The company, comprised of expert nursery growers, medical experts, business leaders, and patient advocates, says it can now apply its greenhouse growing experience, medical knowledge, and business expertise to effectively grow quality and consistent medical cannabis.

Read More
GreenhouseConnect 2015 Grower Supplier Meeting

August 16, 2016

5 Reasons You Need To Attend GreenhouseConnect

Greenhouse Grower’s annual event, which will take place Oct. 11-14 in Park City, UT, offers large-scale growing operations the chance to meet one on one with suppliers who can directly address your business needs.

Read More
Farwest Show Floor

August 14, 2016

Mobile App Now Available For 2016 Farwest Show

The app, available as a free download, can help attendees plan for everything from educational sessions to the New Varieties Showcase and Grower Showcase.

Read More

August 13, 2016

Plants Sales Are Up For Fourth Straight Year, According…

Growers declared spring 2016 to be a success in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry: Spring Crops Recap Survey.

Read More
Echinacea ‘Butterfly Rainbow Marcella’

August 12, 2016

IR-4 Project Receives Federal Funding For Pollinator An…

Grants from the Specialty Crop Research Initiative will fund IR-4 projects on protecting pollinators through ornamental horticulture, and downy mildew management strategies.

Read More
Emily Teng

August 11, 2016

American Floral Endowment Announces Its 2016 Scholarshi…

This year, thanks to the generosity of several donors, AFE awarded more than $35,000 to 17 students pursuing careers in horticulture.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

August 10, 2016

Customers Need Hand-Holding And TLC [Opinion]

If we want customers to use our plants, we need to provide basic information about the plants we produce.

Read More
Plug Connection Assortment

August 9, 2016

AmericanHort’s Plug And Cutting Conference Will Feature…

This year’s conference, which takes place Sept. 19-21 in Carlsbad, CA, features discussions on water, pest and disease control, and production inputs, as well as a biocontrols workshop and tour of local cuttings facilities.

Read More
Jim Nordlie

August 9, 2016

AFE Establishes Memorial Tribute For Long-Time Rose Gro…

Kennicott Brothers Company, Nordlie Inc., and The Pete Garcia Company established the Jim Nordlie Memorial Tribute through American Floral Endowment in honor of James “Jim” Nordlie, who passed away on July 1 at the age of 93.

Read More
Josh Henry, North Carolina State University

August 8, 2016

Get To Know Joshua Henry, Winner Of The 2016 Richard T.…

Henry, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, is pursuing a Master’s degree in horticultural sciences, with a focus on crop nutrition in bedding plants and flowering potted plants.

Read More
Andy And Micky Buist, Micandy Gardens

August 1, 2016

Micandy Gardens Uses New Technology And Energy Efficien…

With it's through energy efficiency, new technology, or the use of biocontrols, the Micandy ownership family of Andy, Micki, and Marcelyn Buist are constantly looking to make changes that will keep the company strong well into the future.

Read More
Obscura Screens From Svensson feature

July 28, 2016

3 New Products For Cannabis Producers

From screens to fertilizers to lighting, here are three new products that might help enhance your cannabis production system.

Read More
Cannabis In Greenhouse

July 27, 2016

The Top 5 Myths About Cannabis Production Cleared Up

There is a lot of misleading information going around about growing cannabis. Industry insider James Lowe makes sure you know the truth about cannabis production.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

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