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...

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Women To Seek Volunteer Leadership Opportunities

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and Suppliers Together in San Diego This October

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s New

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More
Latest Stories

March 4, 2015

Nexus Corporation’s Cheryl Longtin Encourages Wom…

When Cheryl Longtin came to the horticulture business in 1994, she applied her experience in the automotive industry to promote the adoption of more technology in greenhouse production. Longtin says horticulture, with its rich family tradition, has long promoted women in the industry compared to other industries, but women in horticulture must continue to seek out opportunities to provide volunteer leadership in organizations that shape the future of the business.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and …

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More
cultivate'15 logo

March 4, 2015

Cultivate’15: AmericanHort Announces What’s…

In an industry that has seen major changes occurring at a fast pace, many industry professionals leave Cultivate with their heads spinning and no clear idea of how to regroup and strategize. Cultivate’15 is “Changing the Game.” As this year’s focus, Changing the Game will call your attention to the ways in which our industry has changed and your opportunities to compete successfully.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Maryland Green Industry Associations Unite

The Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced that it is expanding its reach to include the greenhouse industry, meaning it has become The Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). The change comes as a result of the planned dissolution of the former Maryland Greenhouse Growers Association and the invitation for those members to join the existing and renamed association.

Read More
american-hort-logo

March 4, 2015

H-2B Cap Hit, Adding to Visa Program Woes

The H-2B visa cap for the first half of fiscal 2015 was hit late in January. As a result, some growers may not have access to the H-2B workers they need during the months ahead. The visa cap and resulting labor shortages will have impacts throughout the horticulture industry.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Avoid Surprises On The Delivery Dock

A call in advance about problems with a plant shipment to a retailer you supply goes a long way toward customer satisfaction.

Read More
Smart Herb Garden

March 2, 2015

Smartpot Uses Sensors And Cartridges To Ensure Success …

Click & Grow helps make it simple for consumers to grow their own herbs and spices at home, even if they have little experience with plants.

Read More

March 2, 2015

Student Flash Mob At TPIE Has Roots In Floriculture

The local FFA students who entertained TPIE attendees in 2014 and 2015 received industry donations of plants and a greenhouse structure to help expand their horticultural program.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

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
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More
american-hort-logo

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More
All American Selections

February 17, 2015

All-America Selections Elects New Officers, Names New J…

While meeting during the Flower and Vegetable Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla., hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, All-America Selections elected new officers for a two-year term. Read on to learn about the new officers, as well as all of the new judges that were added in 2014.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Benchmarks: Find Your Game-Changer

Refuse to accept the status quo in your organization. Explore possibilities until you find what works best for your company.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower.com on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015

GreenhouseGrower.com Relaunches With Responsive Design …

Greenhouse Grower magazine, the nation’s leader in profits, production and education for greenhouse growers, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, GreenhouseGrower.com. The new design is the product of direct user feedback and GreenhouseGrower.com analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

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
Andy Higgins

February 3, 2015

MasterTag Names Andy Higgins As Its New President

Former CEO and president of Ecke Ranch, Andy Higgins, joins MasterTag as its new president. He brings more than two decades of industry experience to the position.

Read More