Marketing To Generation Z: Young Industry Leaders Share Their Ideas

In our first ever Google Hangout, Greenhouse Grower posed a question to a panel of young marketers and savvy growers from operations across the country about how we as an industry can market our products to upcoming generations:

Generation Z, the age group beyond Generation Y, is said to be kids born between 1995 and 2009. These kids are already being marketed to as children and they will be our age in 30 years. They’re true digital natives with an infinite number of options competing for their time and attention. How can our industry effectively start to build interest and awareness in our products?

Here are their thoughts.

Marta Maria Garcia of Costa FarmsMarta Maria Garcia, Costa Farms: I have a 3-year-old and I look at him everyday and everything he’s exposed to, and I think about the things that we bought for him when we were preparing to be parents. It’s going to be interesting to see how that generation evolves. I’m so looking forward to it as a marketer because I see my son and the things that he does and he blows me away every day. I think this is a generation that we need to really talk to and educate about our products.

Here at Costa, we grow potted houseplants and we target this generation through our “O2 For You” Initiative. We go to schools and we talk to teachers. We do Earth Day events to communicate the benefits of having plants around the home. Research shows that if you target children between the ages of 6 and 8 and talk to them about certain things, like our industry, it is bound to happen that later in life, after they’re 18, they’re going to come back. There are certain developmental years when things that kids do with parents and things they’re exposed to stay with them. That age group, 6- to 8-year-olds, is really important and we really need to introduce them to the outside world, to getting their hands dirty. Think about it – that’s the age when they naturally enjoy all of these things.

So I think we, as an industry, need to do a lot of work in getting out there to the schools, talking to kids and moms and telling them about all the benefits of working with our products. I’m very passionate about that age group, both for personal reasons and marketing-wise for our industry. I think it’s going to be very valuable.

Kristine Lonergan_webKristine Lonergan, Garden State Growers: It’s two-fold. One of the things this industry needs – not just for that generation but for many – is an identity, whether it’s a pop icon or an athlete or just somebody. A lot of industries do this but we need it desperately. Right now, Martha Stewart is not someone the younger generations are going to identify with. We need to make gardening a little bit sexier.

The other thing is, it would be ideal if there were more apps that could be downloaded on mobile phones that sort of emulated gardening or got younger consumers interested that way. Social media and mobile apps are where younger generations get interested in a lot of new opportunities. I know we have Farmville on Facebook but that’s a little bit different. We need a real app that can get them intrigued.

robohara_webRob O’Hara, Rainbow Greenhouses: We do tours through the greenhouse and there’s not a kid that comes through here who doesn’t just absolutely love plants at that age. They are interested in what we do and are really captive to what we’re saying. I’ve toured college kids and high school kids through here, too, and by that time, they’re pretty much lost. They don’t ask nearly the number of questions and they aren’t as interested as a group of 8- and 9-year-olds. So I think kids are very easy to influence at that young age.

You also have to spin the message about a healthy lifestyle because younger generations are going to be concerned about what products will do for their health and how they will affect the environment. They’re interested in that. Then, as they’re moving through the teenage years, there’s got to be someone, like an icon or somebody who can promote the industry and keep them interested.

I had my niece here a couple months ago and within minutes she had me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all three going at once. I didn’t know where I was going; she did it in seconds. Kids are interested in that kind of stuff and what their friends are doing. If there is a way to introduce our products, and keep the interest going through social media, that’s what we need to do.

Joe Lutey_webJoe Lutey, Wojo’s Greenhouse: I think we’re at a really good advantage here, with kids 30 years younger than us. It seems really weird to say that. When we were growing up, our minds were kind of blown by the technology we encountered then. It’s kind of mind-blowing now, in this Google Hangout, that we can talk face-to-face with each other over the internet in real time. When we were growing up, this was just something they did on “The Jetsons.” This wasn’t something that we thought would really happen.

So for younger generations, I think they’re going to be so used to that and almost take it for granted that we can kind of blow their minds by introducing them to the idea of being outside and working with plants and actually getting their hands dirty. That’s going to be their new world. For my generation, technology was the new world. The kids now are so used to having TV, cell phones and tablets. If we can show them plants and get them excited about something different and unique and how they can really enrich their lives, that’s really going to be the beginning of an outdoor revolution for them. So I’m actually pretty excited about that prospect. I also have a 3-year-old and if he had the option of playing with his tablet or going outside to throw rocks and mulch around, he’s going to choose to be outside every minute of the day.

StephanieWhitehouse_webStephanie Whitehouse, Peace Tree Farm: I agree but on the same line, we need to focus on teaching kids about choosing healthy lifestyles as early as possible, and reaching them at school, as well. We should focus on the benefits of being outdoors and having that kind of Mother Earth interaction.

It will also be important to focus on marketing to new mothers, like Marta was saying, and promoting the benefits of plants to them. If you think about it, people who are becoming new moms are the youngest of Generation X and the oldest of Generation Y. So maybe a lot of them have not had many interactions with plants in the past and maybe don’t know about gardening or what to do with plants. We need to have a family focus and a healthy lifestyle focus in our marketing efforts, reaching the kids both at school and at home. We also need to market the message to new mothers and families that gardening can be a fun, healthy family activity that everyone can participate in.

Jen Hatalski headshot_webJennifer Hatalski, Hort Couture: I think the interest piece is something that we really need to work on. Like Kristine said, we need someone people can look up to and see, for instance, that Kim Kardashian put a container garden on her back porch so I’m going to do it, too. [The fashion label] Juicy Couture didn’t get started with making velour track suits trendy all on their own. It actually just started sending them to Madonna and other celebrities as samples and they stared wearing them. That is how Juicy Couture got their name out – sending samples to high-profile people.

Once we have people’s interest, things can’t be so complicated for them. They have to be successful, so that ties back in with the clear, concise message of how to care for our products and what to do with them once you have them. If a newbie gardener goes and picks up a lifestyle piece just for decoration and entertainment purposes and they don’t know what to do with it afterwards, we’ll lose them. We really need that clear message across the supply channel because once we have them in our hands, interested in our products, we certainly don’t want to lose anyone.

susie.raker.zimmermanSusie Raker, C. Raker & Sons: Our industry, I feel, tends to market and feel like we have to be somebody’s number one activity. Gardening used to be the number one pastime – isn’t that the statistic? I hear people say that all the time.

We need to start marketing to these people who are technology driven. Maybe they would rather spend time on their iPad. Well, so how do our products enrich that experience? Looking at the pictures of everyone participating in this call, in three of the photos, I can see plants. Plants enrich our lifestyle. So how do we market that message to this generation, that our plants do good things? You can have that bromeliad in the background as you’re reading a book on your tablet, or whatever it will be in 30 years. So I think we really need to focus on not being the number-one activity, but being something to everybody.

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Marketing To Generation Z: Young Industry Leaders Share Their Ideas

  1. We have a young family and I agree that all kids are tech wizards. My daughter will “google” everything before ever considering a purchase. So how do we reach them? The internet is great, but plants need to be touched, smelled and seen. There is such an impact when a child smells pineapple sage or touches livingstone daisy. We make sure parents know that kids are allowed to touch the plants, we encourage it. That is for the customers that are already here. We have arranged a lady bug release and invited the local elementary classes for next June. I agree that we need to market to the young, get out on the internet, to get them to your door. And once you do make sure you are giving them a real sensory experience.
    In addition, we have 4 kids, we live in a rural area and have a farm with great gardens and we don’t just sell flower & veggies, we grow them too. It’s the real deal and our customers appreciate that.

More From Business Management...
More and more people are employing a landscape service, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still garden

September 2, 2015

Under Siege? Not Really, Just Go For A Walk

I have no trouble with people buying chocolates or wine instead of flowers to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays or peoples’ lives. We should all have choices. However, the other night I felt like I was entering the Republican caucus. I was minding my own business by the television set and became more than a little upset. A website called insteadofflowers.com came on the screen. It provided serene music and wholesome images of busy women doing busy things. It turns out that such busy women enjoy a small token of appreciation, but apparently their enjoyment, according to the voice-over, does not include flowers. This website delivers meals to the house, anything from beef brisket to beef bourguignon. It is a fine website with a good idea. But why pick on us? Why not use “insteadofbaloneysandwiches.com” or “insteadofgrilledcheeseandsoup.com,” “insteadofburgerdoodle.com,” or a dozen other things. When did flowers get to be the whipping boy? […]

Read More
Triathlon BA container shot

September 2, 2015

OHP Launches Triathlon BA, Offers Marengo SC In Smaller Size

Triathlon BA biofungicide/bactericide is now available to authorized OHP distributors for shipment to states where product registration has been approved. State registration information is available here. A next generation preventive biological fungicide, bactercide Triathlon BA is labeled for use in both organic and conventional production on a wide variety of fungal and bacterial diseases on ornamentals, fruits, vegetables and herbs and spices. With the active ingredient Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Triathlon BA provides preventive control of many foliar and soil-borne diseases such as botrytis, powdery mildew, downy mildew, rusts, leaf spots, alternaria, pythium, phytophthora, rhizoctonia, fusarium and bacterial spot. Triathlon BA, an aqueous suspension formulation, prevents establishment of disease-causing fungi and bacteria on the plant tissues. Depending on the target disease, users can foliar-apply or soil drench Triathlon BA. Repeat applications may be made at three- to 28-day intervals. Under environmental conditions that are conducive to disease development, users may apply at three- to […]

Read More

September 2, 2015

Delegation Is Key To A Successful Greenhouse Operation

In a packed room at Cultivate’15, speaker Bernie Erven presented key steps growers need to take to improve their delegation skills, the benefits of delegating and the dangers of not learning how to delegate. This is a skill, he says, that everyone needs to learn. “For all of you who are part of a family business, you are choosing not to do things the easy way,” Erven laughed, as he presented a list of ways to know whether or not you’re an effective delegator. The owner of Erven HR Services, LLC, Erven has been working with and observing family businesses for many years. In his presentation, he said, he didn’t share anything that he hasn’t seen first-hand. You might not be a good delegator if you: Tend to be a perfectionist Work more hours than anyone else Lack time to explain clearly and concisely Are often interrupted Enjoy what you used to […]

Read More
Latest Stories

September 2, 2015

Delegation Is Key To A Successful Greenhouse Operation

In a packed room at Cultivate’15, speaker Bernie Erven presented key steps growers need to take to improve their delegation skills, the benefits of delegating and the dangers of not learning how to delegate. This is a skill, he says, that everyone needs to learn. “For all of you who are part of a family business, you are choosing not to do things the easy way,” Erven laughed, as he presented a list of ways to know whether or not you’re an effective delegator. The owner of Erven HR Services, LLC, Erven has been working with and observing family businesses for many years. In his presentation, he said, he didn’t share anything that he hasn’t seen first-hand. You might not be a good delegator if you: Tend to be a perfectionist Work more hours than anyone else Lack time to explain clearly and concisely Are often interrupted Enjoy what you used to […]

Read More
Marc van Iersel

September 1, 2015

GROwing Floriculture Research And Extension

Research and outreach efforts help keep floriculture production profitable. With seemingly continuous budget cuts to university and federal budgets, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to sustain their programs and to keep making a positive impact on the industry. So what can be done to ensure that the industry will keep getting the research and outreach support it has come to rely on? There already is a variety of funding programs that support research and Extension programs in our industry. This funding is critical for many floriculture research and outreach programs. What can we do to leverage that funding and make sure it has the biggest possible impact? A program that I was part of in 2010 may serve as a model. LAUNCH was co-founded by NASA, NIKE, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State as a program to help make innovative ideas become a […]

Read More
september_grow_rodale institute

August 25, 2015

Hospitals Are Getting Into The Organic Food Business

Growers investing in the organic food movement could serve a growing new area with vegetable transplants and starts, as well as produce, as hospitals begin to prescribe healthy diets and nutrition, and even go so far as to grow their own food. As part of a new phenomenon among progressive hospitals, health professionals are beginning to realize that without health and nutrition, programs and techniques may be done in vain or worse — obsolete. As more patients seeking a healthy diet turn to nutritionists, who recommend sugar-free, alkaline diets to prevent disease and aid in recovery, hospitals recognizing this trend are taking action. St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., recently contracted with the nearby Rodale Institute to manage an organic farm, established in 2014. The hospital, part of a six-campus network, aims to provide excellent healthcare, part of which includes educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet. […]

Read More
AmericanHort logo

August 20, 2015

David Savoia To Serve As AmericanHort’s Interim P…

Following Michael Geary’s announcement that he has resigned as president and CEO of AmericanHort, the association has announced that CFO and Senior Vice President for Operations David Savoia will serve as interim president and CEO while the board conducts a search for a new staff executive. Craig Regelbrugge, the senior vice president for advocacy and research, will support Savoia with the association’s external affairs. Geary announced August 12  that he will be leaving his position after September 30 to serve as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architecture, engineering and construction industries. “As some of you know, I grew up connected to the horticulture industry so this was not an easy decision for me,” Geary said in an eMail. “I have loved working with our organizations and our talented members, staff and partners. However, my choice to return full time to Washington, D.C. will allow me […]

Read More
Janeen Wright

August 19, 2015

Why A Step Backward Can Propel Your Greenhouse Business…

Taking a step backward to reflect on the past and plan for the future helps you confidently move your growing operation forward from a position of power.

Read More
Geary-Michael

August 18, 2015

Michael Geary Is Leaving AmericanHort

AmericanHort president and CEO Michael Geary announced last Wednesday that he will be leaving his position at the end of September to serve as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. “I am writing to share with you that on October 8 I will begin a new professional chapter as CEO of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, an organization dedicated to creating business opportunities in the architecture, engineering and construction industries,” Geary said in an email. His last day with AmericanHort will be Sept. 30, 2015. “As some of you know, I grew up connected to the horticulture industry so this was not an easy decision for me,” he said. “I have loved working with our organizations and our talented members, staff and partners. However, my choice to return full time to Washington, D.C. will allow me to be closer to my family and aging parents and to re-engage with another industry […]

Read More

August 15, 2015

Ball Horticultural Co. Buys Conard-Pyle/Star Roses And …

Ball Horticultural Co. plans to add Conard-Pyle/Star Roses and Plants to its family of breeding and distribution companies, according to a press release dated August 14, which announced the company’s recent acquisition of the famous introducer of Knock Out Roses and other perennials and woody plants to the market. Ball plans to capitalize on the expertise of its Ball Ornamentals woody ornamentals division, as well as Conard-Pyle’s market-leading position as a top rose breeder to strengthen its product line. The sale is scheduled to close by the end of September 2015. Conard-Pyle’s in-house breeding division NovaFlora, along with its intellectual properties and the distribution, production and administration facilities of its wholesale division are also part of the acquisition. NovaFlora is the driving force behind the Star Roses and Plants brand. “Conard-Pyle has been the leader in roses in its market and has been actively diversifying its offering with other woody […]

Read More
Christina Salwitz 2014_featured

August 12, 2015

Christina Salwitz Says Women Bring A Unique Perspective…

Garden writer Christina Salwitz is a powerhouse in the industry. She is an expert container designer, works at an independent garden center and runs her own blog. Salwitz is active on social media, and she fights for the industry’s ability to stay autonomous from the big box stores. Most importantly, Salwitz stands out in a field of garden industry people as a design and color specialist who can bring something brilliant and unique to the end consumer. Her garden design business, established in 1998, started with landscaping, then evolved into container design because of increased demand for her unique and color-filled designs. Salwitz continues to work at an independent garden center in order to connect directly with the consumer. She also evolved and expanded her business by blogging, authoring books such as “Fine Foliage” with co-author Karen Chapman, and concentrating on horticultural photography. Demand grew for her work, and by March 2014 her designs were […]

Read More
3D Green Printer

August 11, 2015

3D Printers Sprout Living Designs

Project PrintGREEN is turning 3D printers into on-demand gardeners after designing a “green” 3D printer in 2013. The printer produces living prints, printing customized objects in a variety of sizes and forms. The project was created at the University of Maribor in Slovenia, with a goal to unite art, technology, and nature, creatively producing living designs with the help of technology.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

August 7, 2015

The California Effect: 2016 Could Be A Watershed Year F…

For growers who are looking at the potential for cannabis production but are trying to get a sense for the regulatory lay of the land – know that 2016 could be a watershed year for cannabis legalization.

Read More
cannabis

August 7, 2015

Cannabis Producer Solstice Provides Insight To Greenhou…

To gain some real-world insight about what it takes to produce and sell cannabis, and some of the challenges and roadblocks involved, Greenhouse Grower reached out to Solstice, a producer and processor of cannabis for medical and adult use in Washington state. Alex Cooley, the co-founder and vice president of Solstice, gave us an exclusive interview, and answered the following questions to give greenhouse growers a glimpse into different aspects involved in cannabis production. Visit the Solstice website or follow Solstice on Twitter @SolsticeGrown for more information. Greenhouse Grower (GG): First, let’s get to know you. Could you tell us some background about Solstice and how it got started? Alex Cooley: We started Solstice in 2011 to help legitimize the medical cannabis marketplace by providing consistent, lab-tested cannabis of high quality and creating the state’s first cultivation brand. It was started by myself and two other partners, Will Denman and […]

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

August 7, 2015

Big Banks A Step Closer To Financing Cannabis — Or Not

A key Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill on July 23 that allows the nation's capital to establish regulated medical marijuana stores and lets banks provide financial services to state legalized marijuana dispensaries.

Read More
Roots To Re-Entry’s ornamental plant nursery donates plants to local community gardens

August 4, 2015

Roots To Re-Entry Transforms Lives

An inspired employment initiative takes green-job training behind prison walls to help inmates find jobs in urban agriculture and the landscaping industry upon their release, and along the way, it is changing lives for the better. The Roots To Re-Entry (R2R) job training program, conceived by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) and its partners, does more than teach inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System the skills they need to find meaningful employment; it also teaches them invaluable life skills. The PHS staff leads participants through a 16-week course that includes hands-on projects designed to teach them horticultural skills and provide them with training in landscape maintenance and greenhouse growing. In addition to English and math, the nonprofit Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) offers supplemental courses in health education and employment preparedness. Upon inmates’ release from prison, the FNC assists R2R graduates with the transition to life outside prison walls by […]

Read More
Burpee Home Gardens Brand Adds Flowers

July 31, 2015

4 Reasons Retailers Snub National Brands

Greenhouse Grower’s lead editor, Laura Drotleff, and I got into a debate about why garden retailers, especially independent garden centers, snub marketing efforts from breeders and growers. She was very much on the breeders’ and growers’ side, expressing frustration about how limited retailers’ vision can be on the topic. I’ve reported on the garden retail side of the industry since 1998, about the same length of time Laura has reported on growers. I’ve heard a lot of retailer views on this, so allow me to share the most common reasons why retailers decline free marketing: Costs. While the marketing materials are free, and sometimes advertising, participating in these projects usually requires minimum orders. From a grower’s perspective, the minimum orders are reasonable. If garden stores promote a plant line, they need to have enough supplies to satisfy demand. From a retail perspective, if inventory reports show a plant line can […]

Read More

July 30, 2015

Spread Your Risk Beyond Spring Sales [Opinion]

Growers who participated in Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Recap Survey said they have had enough of the uncertainty that the weather brings. They said it’s time to build up sales in other seasons like fall so we’re not so dependent on spring. As a couple of wholesale growers, both from the Southeast, very eloquently stated, our industry has mastered squeezing everything we can out of the spring season. And while this year happened to be a very successful one, thanks to the improving economy and elevated consumer confidence, they said, “now is no time to celebrate.” “Spring is still Christmas in the horticulture industry, but we have done such a good job focusing on spring that we have neglected other seasons,” one grower said. “Having so many eggs in the spring basket is dangerous. Fall will never be what spring is, but having a solid second season is in […]

Read More

July 29, 2015

2015 Spring Crops Report: Rain Soaks Spring Sales

Rain, rain and more rain. That was the story this spring for the large majority of growers across the U.S. And where it wasn’t too wet, it was too dry. Drought conditions cut sales in the West and Southwest. But it wasn’t all bad. Eighty-nine percent of respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Crops Survey declared the season a success, despite its challenges. They said beautiful weather in April and excited consumers who were ready to spend got the season going early, but then cool temps and rainy weekends throughout May and June caused confusion over when and how much to plant. Of the 189 respondents to Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Spring Recap Survey, 53 percent identified themselves as grower-retailers, 34 percent were wholesale growers and 13 percent said they were young plant growers. Most responses came from the Midwest (27 percent), Northeast (18 percent) and Southeast (16 percent), but also […]

Read More
eMailMarketing feature image

July 23, 2015

Is eMail Dead?

Email as a marketing technique may seem outdated, but when done well, it is still an effective way to share content and market your brand.

Read More
Berns_Roberto Lopez_Purdue6

July 22, 2015

Cultivate’15 Greenhouse Learning Tour Showcases G…

Growers took advantage of the Greenhouse Learning tour held Saturday, July 11 at Cultivate'15 to see the strategies and technology two successful growing operations are using to tackle production challenges and come out ahead of the game.

Read More