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...
Employees separate the plants by stem count, bud development and height. “This process allows us to respond more quickly to specific requests from customers,” Van Wingerden says

September 22, 2016

AmericanHort Hosting Webinar On Overtime Rule Compliance

The webinar takes place on Thursday, Sept. 29. AmericanHort is also throwing its support behind the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

Read More
customer-base

September 21, 2016

6 Creative Ways To Expand Your Business

Marketing experts offer tips to help you catch the attention of new customers and grow your business.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Students

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Employees separate the plants by stem count, bud development and height. “This process allows us to respond more quickly to specific requests from customers,” Van Wingerden says

September 22, 2016

AmericanHort Hosting Webinar On Overtime Rule Complianc…

The webinar takes place on Thursday, Sept. 29. AmericanHort is also throwing its support behind the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

Read More
customer-base

September 21, 2016

6 Creative Ways To Expand Your Business

Marketing experts offer tips to help you catch the attention of new customers and grow your business.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Pansy ‘Cool Wave Blue Skies’ (Wave)

September 20, 2016

PanAmerican Seed Settles Alleged Trade Sanction Violati…

PanAmerican Seed, a division of Ball Horticultural Co., has been charged with violating trade sanctions to Iran over a number of years. According to a release from the U.S. Treasury department, PanAmerican Seed made 48 indirect sales of seeds to two Iranian distributors. The company shipped the seed to consignees based in countries in Europe and the Middle East. PanAmerican Seed’s customers then arranged for the re-exportation of the seeds to Iran. The release states that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) determined PanAmerican Seed did not voluntarily self-disclose the alleged violations to OFAC, constituting an egregious case. “We believe that the settlement was extreme; however the alternative was to litigate with the U.S. government, which would take months, if not years,” says Todd Billings, Chief Financial Officer for Ball Horticultural Co. When asked what Ball Horticultural Co. has done to ensure that violations to trade sanctions do not […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challeng…

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

September 16, 2016

What You Need To Know About DINKs

DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) are quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics that marketers are targeting.

Read More
MANTS

September 15, 2016

Registration Is Now Open For MANTS 2017 In Baltimore

The 2017 Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show takes place Jan. 11-13 in Baltimore, MD, and will feature more than 1,000 exhibitors from the green industry.

Read More
farwest-2016-photobooth

September 14, 2016

Farwest 2016 Marked By Expert Discussions On Green Indu…

Attendance at the 2016 Farwest Show in Portland was up 6% from last year, as visitors sought to learn more about emergent market opportunities.

Read More
Workers at Golden State Bulb Growers clean Calla tubers and select the best quality bulbs, placing them on conveyors to be graded, counted and sorted in the new system

September 13, 2016

Newly Signed California Law Expands Overtime To Farmwor…

The new law, which will be phased in beginning in 2019, is the first of its kind in the nation to end the 80-year-old practice of applying separate labor rules to agricultural laborers.

Read More
RISE New Governing Board 2016

September 11, 2016

RISE Appoints New Leadership, Hands Out Awards During 2…

“Our members’ enthusiasm is high, and we had great engagement as we work together to set objectives for 2017 and beyond,” said Aaron Hobbs, RISE President. “Our work ensures a vibrant future for our industry, so we can continue to deliver cutting-edge solutions to solve people’s pest and plant health problems.”

Read More
Workers at The Farm at Green Village

September 10, 2016

Now Is The Best Time To Demand Federal H-2B Program Sup…

Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution spending bill in the near future, and whether or not that measure includes an H-2B returning worker exemption could impact your labor supply for 2017.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Awa…

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Charlie Hall Feature Image

September 6, 2016

10 Insights From Charlie Hall’s Green Industry Economic…

With the uncertain current economic climate, Texas A&M economist Charlie Hall says now may be the perfect time to invest — as long as you do it smartly.

Read More
Increased customer demand led Good Harvest Farms to add hydroponic lettuce in 2000

September 3, 2016

Are You A Leafy Greens Grower? If So, Take This Survey!

A team of researchers from several universities is looking for feedback from leafy greens and herb growers.

Read More
Michigan State University Employee Handbook

September 2, 2016

Why You Might Need An Employee Handbook For Your Greenh…

Employee handbooks are not just for big greenhouse operations that employ large numbers of workers. According to a Michigan State University expert, they are an important human resources management tool that all growers should have.

Read More
Griffin Onliant Logo

August 30, 2016

Griffin Launches New Digital Greenhouse Ordering System

Onliant, which replaces Griffin’s previous e-commerce sites, provides growers and retailers with a new platform to source plants, hard goods, equipment, and retail inputs.

Read More
America In Bloom Project

August 29, 2016

Your Chance To Help America In Bloom As It Celebrates I…

America In Bloom is launching a fundraising campaign to help the group continue its mission of creating beautiful and vibrant communities across the country.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries Feature Image

August 29, 2016

North Creek Nurseries Unites Horticulture With Sustaina…

The team at North Creek Nurseries, Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Operation Of The Year, leads the way in implementing ecologically responsible practices that will sustain the future of growing.

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