Growing Green: Marketing Sustainability

Growing Green: Marketing Sustainability

So, you’re ready to commit to sustainability. You’ve got the products and you’ve got the knowledge. Now what? The sustainability movement has opened up a whole new world of opportunity for independent garden centers, as long as you know how to market it. 

Placement Is Key

Getting customers to notice your earth-friendly offerings is the first step in becoming profitable with green products. Jeremy Brunner, vice president of natural plant food manufacturer and marketer The Espoma Company, says presentation is everything, and placement is critical. Espoma’s switch from paper packaging to plastic packaging created the ability for garden centers to display the product outside, closer to the plant material, which Brunner says has been a great success. “You need to get product outside,” he says. “You need to get product in as many places as possible.”

Susan Lewis, founder and president of organic pesticide company Pharm Solutions, says cross merchandising is key. Placing a bottle of Rose Pharm, for example, next to a rose bush display can increase your bottom line while keeping your customers happy, too. “The consumer is going to take home this beautiful rose in perfect health, and in three weeks it’s going to have black spot and rust,” Lewis says. She points out, though, that if you sell an earth-friendly pesticide like Rose Pharm along with each rose bush, customers will be a lot more likely to have success with the plant. “They’re going to be a much happier customer and come back and buy more roses,” she says.

Lewis also advises against displaying natural and organic products with all the chemicals. “The folks who are really organic and really earth friendly are not going down the pesticide aisle,” she says.

Greenscape Gardens in Manchester, Mo., carries not only a selection of environmentally friendly “natural garden solutions,” but also offers an array of native plants, which are all merchandised together in one area. Jennifer Schamber, Greenscape general manager, says that because native plants aren’t always the most attractive in plastic pots, Greenscape paints all the benching in the native plant area one color. The garden center chose purple because it matches the logo for Missouri’s native plant program, GrowNative! “We’ve seen a much greater interest in natives in the past two years, and we believe this will continue to be an important part of our perennials department,” she adds.

Schamber also says word of mouth is one of the best ways to create buzz around earth-friendly products. “I’ve found that customers can be the best salespeople to other customers, so if someone repeatedly buys an organic product, ask them to jot down a quick note to keep posted with that product, like ‘This one works! Great find!–Joe,'” she says. “People are very interested in sharing their knowledge with others when it comes to this subject. It gives them a sense of satisfaction in knowing that they are doing their part.” 

Sell It Well

Many consumers aren’t 100 percent sure which products they need, so making sure they’re properly educated through effective signage is extremely important, says Brunner. “Certainly when it comes to the natural and environmentally friendly, you want signage and any kind of literature that can be consistent with that message and help promote the category,” he says. In addition to being attractive and grabbing consumers’ attention, product packaging needs to be informative, too. “It needs to be able to communicate the key benefits to people so they can make a decision,” Brunner says. “There’s a lot of evidence out there that shows that the majority of consumers are making these decisions at the point of sale, so packaging becomes critical in those kinds of environments.” He adds many garden centers don’t have the staff available to be everywhere and talk to everybody, so the packaging needs to be able to sell itself.

Employees play a big role in the marketing success of sustainable products, and making sure you and your staff are ahead of the curve is important. Both Brunner and Schamber agree that shopping your local competition and talking with other independents to see what they’re doing right and wrong can help you make the best decisions for your green campaign. Schamber also says it’s important for retailers to listen to customers’ opinions and take their interests into consideration. Also, make sure you’re properly labeling any locally grown plant material so customers are aware they’re supporting the local economy while being easier on the environment. “We proudly grow our perennials in pots with our name and with a large recycling symbol on the back,” says Schamber. “The interest is there, and this is the year to break free from the old routine.”

In his new book, “The Green Gardeners Guide: Simple, Significant Actions to Protect & Preserve Our Planet,” Joe Lamp’l (a.k.a. Joe Gardener), encourages gardeners to become environmental stewards. “I want to educate them on some really viable alternatives,” he says. “They need to (be shown ways to) create a more eco-friendly garden. I write about it in my book extensively, but the garden centers can be the place they go and actually see this stuff.”

So, what does Joe Gardener think garden centers should be doing to help promote sustainability and cater to the eco-friendly gardener?

“I want to hear the retailer provide an eco-friendly option or a natural option first without an apology,” he says. “Not making an apology on why they’re not selling English ivy or some common variety of honeysuckle that’s so invasive and so aggressive that it’s destroying our ecosystems and our biodiversity, and instead, provide another solution.

“I would love to see a way for garden centers to provide more safe, natural compost, because I believe compost is the single best soil amendment you can put in your garden.

“I also want to see more awareness. When consumers go in and buy mulch and soil, I want them to be aware that there’s a certification seal now from the Mulch & Soil Council that lets the consumer know that bag is safe and free from potentially harmful chemicals, such as arsenic from pressure-treated wood.

“I’d like to see them do fair trade products–have more sponsorship of local things–products that are local from sustainable sources, and maybe not so many plastic pots. There are more and more options these days for recyclable pots or pots that break down in the compost. I would like to see them eliminate that problem at the source by encouraging their suppliers to do something about it.

“More classes–more education. Certainly independent garden centers do a great job of hiring people that naturally are eco-friendly gardeners or are very conversant on that topic, but as I’m fond of saying about gardening, I don’t think we can ever know it all. We’re always learning, and we need to walk our talk in the garden center and as gardening communicators and demonstrate with things people can come and see.

“A garden center is a great place to develop that community and that destination site where people can go not only for their product, but for the information from a reliable and trusted source.”

Check your local listings for Joe’s television show, GardenSMART, on PBS, and visit his Web site at www.joegardener.com.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, According To Study

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Marketers (And Vice Versa)

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Mark…

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Costa Farms Container Ideas E-Book

April 12, 2016

Costa Farms Targets Consumers With New Container Garden…

The electronic book offers tips on container selection, design, and plant care for millennials looking to grow in small spaces.

Read More
Tropical Fruit Tree Selection (Hopkins Tropical Fruit Nursery)

April 7, 2016

University Of Florida Research Shows Consumers Value Lo…

Compared to conventional plants, consumers reported a higher purchasing likelihood for certified organic or organically produced fruit plants.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

March 31, 2016

The Floriculture Industry Needs A Unified Message To Pr…

Seeing the sneak preview of the new varieties that will be presented at California Spring Trials (CAST) spurs a visceral reaction in me. I’m giddy and excited about these gorgeous plants, having taken in some of their beauty and excellent performance already at Costa Farms’ Season Premier. I’m excited to travel to Spring Trials and that spring is coming, and I’m ready to dig in and get gardening. I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. And it’s likely that consumers do, too. Nearly a year ago, upon returning from California Spring Trials, I lamented the absence of ideas translated from CAST to retail. The beautiful displays, the breathtaking combinations, the clever marketing — somehow, all of that effort and enthusiasm focused on business-to-business promotion is not being funneled effectively to the consumer. As an industry, we are not good at working together to market our products in a clear, […]

Read More
Sakata Seed America President David Armstrong

March 30, 2016

Sakata Signs Agreement With Indonesian Government To Co…

This week, Sakata Seed Corp. announced internationally that it has signed an agreement with the Republic of Indonesia to cooperate in the further development and production of its line of SunPatiens interspecific hybrid impatiens, based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under an agreement based on the CBD, Sakata Seed has worked with the Indonesian government since the early 2000s to identify the origin of the native germplasm collected in Indonesia to develop SunPatiens, and the two parties have agreed on how the indigenous genetic resources will be used for the further development of SunPatiens. There are currently only a few cases in the world of such an agreement, based on the CBD in the category of horticultural plants, made between a resource-rich country and a commercial seed company. Greenhouse Grower contacted Sakata Seed CEO David Armstrong to provide context about this agreement, what it means […]

Read More
NGI-SunPatiens-Compact-Hot-Coral-Sakata

March 23, 2016

P. Allen Smith Says SunPatiens Are Hero Plants For Cons…

Plants that ensure consumer success with disease resistance bred into their genetics, and ease of use in a variety of conditions, are heroes for gardeners, especially beginners, and they should be celebrated and supported to promote gardening success and interest. These are the messages the award-winning designer, gardening, and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith wants the horticulture industry to know, with the recent announcement of his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed. In an exclusive interview with Greenhouse Grower, P. Allen Smith describes his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed to promote SunPatiens and why the now 10-year-old series helps both novice and expert gardeners to be successful. Smith also collaborates with Sakata to promote the HomeGrown Collection of vegetables. SunPatiens Set Consumers Up For Success, Smith Says As a plantsman first, Smith has extensively trialed SunPatiens in his gardens at Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, AR, and says he is […]

Read More
Suzanne McKee

March 18, 2016

4 Pitfalls To Avoid With Responsive Web Design

When implementing responsive design on your website, sidestep these common problems with some advance planning.

Read More
1 800 Flowers Instagram Women's Day

March 15, 2016

Society Of American Florists Uses Social Media To Take …

SAF strategically promoted five key Facebook posts to expand its reach beyond its followers and prominently featured Women’s Day on its other consumer channels.

Read More
Mason Day Great Plant Debate Campaign For GrowIt!

March 3, 2016

GrowIt! App Founders Look To Make Waves At The Chicago …

Mason Day and Seth Reed will hold a “Great Plant Debate” at the event, while updating the GrowIt! app with information on every plant featured at the show.

Read More

February 26, 2016

How To Recruit Loyal Customers With Facebook

Facebook is a powerful engagement tool that when used effectively can help you attract and retain faithful customers.

Read More
Greenhouse Vegetable Marketing

February 18, 2016

9 Tips To Maximize Your Greenhouse Vegetable Market Pot…

Set yourself apart by sizing up your competition, evaluating your demographics, and putting customers first.

Read More
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Inf…

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More

January 27, 2016

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Provides Sneak Peek A…

Costa Farms presented the 2016 Season Premier at its 2-acre Trial Gardens in Miami, FL, in the third week of January. The event showcases varieties from breeders of all sizes to growers and major retail buyers, providing a look at what genetics are coming to the market and how they’ll perform in retail settings and in the landscape, when consumers bring them home. The mild winter climate in South Florida allows Costa Farms’ Research and Development Department to simulate the spring growing conditions of various regions in the country. Because each group of visitors to Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens wants to see what the new plants look like in the environments that matter to them, Season Premier offers several areas within the Trial Gardens that highlight different ways to look at the wealth of new varieties. The New Product Showcase offers a way for retailers to see how plants will […]

Read More

January 26, 2016

Beekenkamp And Danziger Partner To Distribute Poinsetti…

Danziger is continuing to expand its portfolio of products to the U.S. market with the addition of poinsettia cuttings of Beekenkamp’s varieties.

Read More
Houseplant Featured Image

January 21, 2016

How To Improve Consumer Interest In Indoor Foliage Plan…

Researchers discover why there is decreasing consumer demand for indoor foliage plants and suggest ways to overcome hurdles to purchasing.

Read More
Bee On Flower

December 29, 2015

Scotts Miracle-Gro To Fund 50 Pollinator Gardens In 201…

In an effort to help combat the loss of pollinator habitats in recent years, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. announced plans in mid-December for a year-long effort to improve consumer education about pollinators and promote the creation of backyard and urban habitats where they can thrive. The “Pollinator Promise” will fund the establishment of at least 50 pollinator gardens throughout the U.S. in 2016, as part of the company’s GRO1000 community gardening initiative. The GRO1000 initiative, now in its sixth year, partners with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Pollinator Stewardship Council, The Franklin Park Conservatory, and others, to promote the availability of additional grants for gardens and green spaces throughout the country. “The importance of pollinators is unquestionable and it is easier than most people think to create a habitat where they can thrive,” says Jim King, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Scotts Miracle-Gro. “The Pollinator Promise is […]

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