Europeans Embracing Merchandising

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Slideshow: Dutch Merchandising Concepts

The garden center concept. Van den Berg says Dutch garden centers are more “business oriented” today than they have been, and there’s a push for back-to-basics concepts that hook consumers.

As I mentioned in an earlier post featuring Zabo Plants’ Frits Kneppers, a Dutch grower’s success is based on quality whereas an American grower’s success is often based on the ability to build a marketing program or promotion for products. Quality is still very important in the U.S., but Kneppers says it is not as vital to consumer sales as it is in The Netherlands.

So because quality has always been the No. 1 factor in whether Dutch consumers buy plants or not, growers have historically spent less time working on marketing or merchandising and more time growing. But times are changing in The Netherlands. Breeders, growers and retailers see the potential for increased sales with an embrace of merchandising, and those who visit the FloraHolland Trade Fair in Aalsmeer later this week will see three creative merchandising concepts first hand.

FloraHolland chose world-class floral designer Doriene van den Berg to create three concepts—one for Dutch garden centers, a second for supermarkets and a third for high-end floral shops—and her exhibits were in the early building stages during my visit to FloraHolland on Sunday afternoon. Each concept is comparable to the ones you typically see in the United States—”back to basics” for the garden center, “flowers are fun” for the supermarket, etc.—but van den Berg emphasizes the concepts are not marketing programs into which retailers would normally buy. They’re simply ideas retailers can take away and apply at their own stores or shops.

“FloraHolland wants to sell concepts,” van den Berg says. “Emotion is much more important now. When a customer has a good feeling, they’re more likely to buy.”

Peter van der Vooit, FlorConcepting coordinator for the FloraHolland Trade Fair, agrees merchandising is becoming more important in The Netherlands.

“We want to inspire our customers to be creative so they show up at the shop,” van der Vooit says. “We think it’s necessary for professionals to have knowledge about these concepts. The emotion of product is not enough anymore, and that’s why we have these examples of shops for growers and others to see here at the trade fair”

Kevin Yanik is the former managing editor of Greenhouse Grower.

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