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...
Cal-Poly fields

May 27, 2015

Cal-Poly Students And Faculty Ask Industry To Help Save Horticulture Facilities

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has released an update to its Master Plan that indicates that almost all of its orchards, horticulture facilities and field sites could be repurposed for buildings, including residential, and/or recreational space. According to a letter from Scott Steinmaus, the horticulture and crop science department head, the proposed changes directly affect the current orchard plantings and other long term plans for the department. The department is committed to making sure that its facilities remain invaluable teaching environments that enable its students to learn about crop, fruit and horticulture production, food safety and pest protection, in addition to providing sites for externally funded research projects that benefit the industry. Industry members are invited to submit comments to the university. According to Steinmaus, a recent eMail to the Cal-Poly community from the university president indicates that all of the input gathered through the end of May will be studied by the planning […]

Read More
Laura Drotleff

May 27, 2015

Growers Working Hard To Protect Pollinators — And Their Businesses (Opinion)

Editor’s Note: This editorial was written and published just prior to the news coming out about Lowe’s phasing out neonicotinoids by 2019. However, that news doesn’t change the fact that growers have a long history as good stewards of their land and of the environment. As evidenced by the 2015 Top 100 Growers Report, the nation’s largest growers continue to adapt their production practices to be cognizant of environmental factors, worker safety, retailer preferences and consumer concerns. In light of Lowe’s announcement, growers who produce for the retailer are certainly working toward that mandate; but they’re also hopeful that the research currently underway will provide scientific reason for decisions made on production going forward. When the news broke last year that growers would be required to label plants treated with neonicotinoids at The Home Depot, and that other retailers were mandating growers to produce crops without neonics, I sucked in air and […]

Read More

May 27, 2015

Vote For Your Favorite New Annual For The 2015 Readers’ Choice Award

VOTING IS NOW OPEN FOR: ANNUALS It’s time for you, our readers, to decide which variety is picked as the best new introduction in 2015. We’ve expanded our Readers’ Choice program to include a wider variety of plants. Breeders have entered their best varieties by category and the winners will advance as finalists to face off to win the Readers’ Choice Award. Categories are Annuals, Perennials, Edibles and the Best of the Rest. Finalists will be announced in June and the Readers’ Choice winner will be announced July 13 at Greenhouse Grower’s prestigious Evening Of Excellence event at Cultivate’15. Which annual is the most promising introduction? Vote here now! Thanks to our 2015 Medal Of Excellence sponsors, Landmark Plastics and Stockosorb by Evonik. Readers’ Choice Voting Schedule: Annuals – May 22 to May 28 (closes at 12 a.m. EST) Perennials – May 29 to June 4 (closes at 12 a.m. EST) Edibles – […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Cal-Poly fields

May 27, 2015

Cal-Poly Students And Faculty Ask Industry To Help Save…

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, has released an update to its Master Plan that indicates that almost all of its orchards, horticulture facilities and field sites could be repurposed for buildings, including residential, and/or recreational space. According to a letter from Scott Steinmaus, the horticulture and crop science department head, the proposed changes directly affect the current orchard plantings and other long term plans for the department. The department is committed to making sure that its facilities remain invaluable teaching environments that enable its students to learn about crop, fruit and horticulture production, food safety and pest protection, in addition to providing sites for externally funded research projects that benefit the industry. Industry members are invited to submit comments to the university. According to Steinmaus, a recent eMail to the Cal-Poly community from the university president indicates that all of the input gathered through the end of May will be studied by the planning […]

Read More
calliope dark red geranium

May 27, 2015

Leider Family Suffers Two Deaths

Industry veteran Jim Leider of Leider Greenhouses and his family suffered two losses this year, first with the death of his wife of 54 years, Peggy Leider, who passed away March 23, and more recently with the death of his and Peggy’s oldest son, Michael, who passed away May 24. Leider Greenhouses is a 117-year-old greenhouse operation based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., near Chicago. Margaret Lynch “Peggy” Leider, age 76 of Lake Bluff, Ill. and Ocean Ridge, Fla., succumbed to a long battle with cancer in March. Peggy attended Westchester College and Penn State University, and met her husband Jim at Cornell University. She moved to Chicago when they married, and was an avid supporter of the family greenhouse business, Leider’s Greenhouses. Peggy dedicated many hours of her time as a member of several organizations, including the Chicago Botanic Garden Women’s Board, Ravinia Festival Women’s Board and The Northwestern University […]

Read More
water

May 27, 2015

California Growers To Voluntarily Cut Back Water Use

Farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have agreed to reduce their water use by 25 percent in exchange for assurance that they will not face further curtailment during the June-September growing season. The proposal was approved by the State Water Resources Control Board on Friday, May 22. “This proposal helps Delta growers manage the risk of potentially deeper curtailment, while ensuring significant water conservation efforts in this fourth year of drought,” State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus says. “It allows participating growers to share in the sacrifice that people throughout the state are facing because of the severe drought, while protecting their economic well-being by giving them some certainty regarding exercise of the State Water Board’s enforcement discretion at the beginning of the planting season.” Growers who participate in the program could opt to either reduce water diversions under their riparian rights by 25 percent, or fallow 25 percent of their land. In both cases, the […]

Read More
Four Star Greenhouse Proven Winner Plants At English Garden

May 26, 2015

Retailer To Grower: It’s Time To Offer Services To Loc…

Retailers wonder why mass merchants are the only ones to receive stocking, merchandising and plant care from growers.

Read More
Farwest2015

May 20, 2015

2015 Farwest Show Announces Second Annual Equipment Inn…

The second annual Equipment Innovation Day will be Tuesday, Aug. 25, prior to the 2015 Farwest show, which will be August 27-29 in Portland, Ore. Equipment Innovation Day, which was enthusiastically received in 2014, offers a real-time opportunity to see new heavy and automated nursery equipment in action. The demonstrations take place in manufacturing and nursery settings, adding value to the showcase. Attendees will be able to talk with participating manufacturers and learn first-hand from innovative growers who use the equipment in daily operations. The day-long event will be held at the main manufacturing plant of GK Machines, Inc., Donald, Ore. Further demonstrations of field equipment will take place at the nearby nursery of A&R Spada Farms, LLC. Bus travel to and from the event is planned, starting at and returning to the Oregon Convention Center. Attendees are welcome to provide their own travel to and from the site. Preregistration is required. The cost […]

Read More
Amy Daniel with daughters

May 20, 2015

Fall Creek Farm & Nursery’s Amy Daniel Suppor…

Amy Daniel, marketing and brand manager at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, has a passion for marketing and branding that led her into the green industry early in her career, when she and a friend started their own agency, and she began helping her parents — then owners of a retail nursery — with marketing services. Daniel’s career in the field started in the 1980s, after she finished college with degrees in journalism and advertising. It wasn’t long before she began to feel frustrated with the status quo in the industry. She and a friend from college, agreeing there was a better way to do things, decided to start a business. “I guess now looking back, we were probably young and naive, but it all worked out really well,” Daniel says. “We started our own advertising agency/marketing and PR firm. I ran that for two decades. It was very successful.” […]

Read More
CCGGA-Scholarship-Winners

May 20, 2015

Central Coast Greenhouse Growers Association Awards 201…

The Central Coast Greenhouse Growers Association (CCGGA) is awarding 20 scholarships this year to high school and college students. CCGGA-member nurseries raised money for the scholarship fund and each donated a portion of the fundraising sales to the fund, which is open to students currently enrolled in college for the following year. The scholarship program is also available to students of employees who work at CCGGA-member nurseries One of the organization’s goals is to continue encouraging future generations to enter the horticulture field and to promote higher education within the families that work in the local nursery business. The 2015 CCGGA scholarship recipients are: Aloysia Shea – Nipomo High School Andrew McHaney – CSalinas High School Angel Flores – Righetti High School Beatriz Barajas – San Jose State University Carolanne Garibay – Monterey Peninsula College Cladia Lavina – Salinas High School Erica Marquez-Ibarra – San Jose State University Jorge Zarate […]

Read More

May 18, 2015

Download Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 Top 100 Growers…

Greenhouse Grower‘s Top 100 Growers Survey revealed that our projections in the 2015 State Of The Industry report were correct: Growers, at least the large ones, are expanding. Greenhouse Grower’s annual Top 100 List ranks the largest U.S. growers by total square feet of environmentally controlled greenhouse space, although this year, we have also listed shade and field acreage, to give perspective on how large these operations are beyond the greenhouse. In total, the 2015 list represents 228,906,001 environmentally controlled square feet of U.S. production, a 5 percent increase over 2014. All told, 26 growers reported that their operation grew between 2014 and 2015. Several growers reduced their production over the past year, as well, and while some operations’ downsized numbers were significant, most were slight and probably typical of the give-and-take in the horticulture industry. Greenhouse Grower‘s 2015 Top 100 Growers Whitepaper includes all the results of the survey, […]

Read More
New Guinea Impatiens

May 14, 2015

10 Tips To Improve Retail Shelf Life Of Bedding Plants

Good-looking plants at retail lead to stronger sales and less postharvest shrink. Try these 10 ideas for maintaining quality and keeping plants looking beautiful.

Read More
Vegetables with knife

May 14, 2015

Keeping Your Fruits And Vegetables Safe: Best Practices…

Part three of the food safety series focuses on worker hygiene, visitor policies and other biosecurity measures to safeguard the greenhouse.

Read More
Janeen Wright

May 13, 2015

Don’t Let Labels Be A Limitation To Your Greenhou…

Whether you label yourself or your business as average, extraordinary or innovative, make sure that what you don’t do is let that label define who you are and what your business can become.

Read More
USDA Logo

May 13, 2015

New Report Shows College Graduates With Agriculture Deg…

A new report from the USDA shows high demand for recent college graduates with agriculture degrees, with an estimated 57,900  high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources and environment fields in the U.S. According to an employment outlook report released by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Purdue University, there is an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually. “There is incredible opportunity for highly-skilled jobs in agriculture,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Those receiving degrees in agricultural fields can expect to have ample career opportunities. Not only will those who study agriculture be likely to get well-paying jobs upon graduation, they will also have the satisfaction of working in a field that addresses some of the world’s most pressing challenges. These jobs will only become more […]

Read More
people-of-Battlefield

May 13, 2015

Battlefield Farms Receives MPS-A Qualification

Battlefield Farms, Inc., in Rapidan, Va., has been awarded the MPS-A qualification after becoming a participant for MPS-ABC in 2010. After four years of showing effort and improvement, the company has been awarded the qualification.

Read More
Amanda and Janeen

May 12, 2015

Two Greenhouse Grower Team Members Are Promoted

Janeen Wright is now Managing Editor and Amanda Gallagher is Associate Editor / Online Editor, reflecting their hard work on Greenhouse Grower.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

May 12, 2015

Suntory And GrowIt! Garden Socially Partner On A New Se…

Suntory Flowers and GrowIt! Garden Socially are working together on a new photo contest that both retailers and their customers can get involved in. GrowIt! Garden Socially is a free garden photo sharing app, and the photo contest is designed to promote Suntory’s plant brands and help consumers interested in those plants find them at local garden centers. Consumers who want to enter the contest can take these four steps: 1. Download GrowIt! for free from the App Store or Google Play store 2. Sign up with a username 3. In the app, add a photo of their favorite Senetti plant 4. In the comments, tag it #SenettiRocks The first photo contest featuring ‘Senetti’ pericallis runs from May 7-18. Three entrants will win gift certificates from their favorite local garden retailer — one $100 prize and two $50 prizes. After Senetti, the next featured brand will be ‘Million Bells’ calibrachoas […]

Read More
Barry_Sturdivant_columnpic

May 8, 2015

How To Survive Succession Planning And Resolve Conflic…

If you work in agriculture, you most likely work with family-owned businesses. This is especially true within the greenhouse industry. I’m fortunate to work for a company that specializes in financing and supporting such businesses. Family-owned businesses often have a level of commitment and support that helps during lean times. This is important for a company exposed to seasonality and events that are sometimes beyond management’s control. Business owners and management are constantly looking for solutions to the unique issues faced by these small but complex businesses. Specifically, how these issues affect the transition from one generation to the next. There are many family enterprise success stories, cases of harmony, health and longevity. Yet it’s no secret that family businesses can struggle with governance, leadership transitions and even survival. According to the Family Business Institute, only 30 percent of family businesses last into the second generation, 12 percent remain viable […]

Read More
Top 100

May 8, 2015

The Top 100 Growers Tackle Crop Protection Challenges

We asked the Top 100 Growers how they have changed their production practices to address consumer concerns about pollinator health, as well as how integrated pest management and the use of biocontrols have changed their operations.

Read More
Top 100

May 8, 2015

2015 Greenhouse Grower Top 100 Growers: Reading The Ran…

For the second straight year, Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Growers survey shows the largest growers are rapidly expanding.

Read More