April 25, 2011

Consumer Interest In ‘Green’ Plants

The ornamental plant industry consists of a few large- and many medium- and small-scale growers. In recent years, the intense competition from large domestic and international growers has forced medium- and small-scale farmers to identify and explore new niche markets for their products through value-added marketing. Discovering a profitable niche market is a complicated task because consumer demand is highly diversified. Organically grown and locally grown food products have become increasingly popular in recent years. There is a belief that the demand for organic and sustainable floral products is increasing in the United States due to an emerging consumer segment focused on health and fitness, the environment, personal development, sustainable living and social justice. Our research focused on two questions: 1) Are some consumers more interested in ornamentals, vegetable transplants and herbs produced in sustainable ways than conventionally grown plants? and 2) Do some consumers have different levels of interest […]

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March 30, 2011

Endless Marketing Ideas

There’s no limit to the number of fun and exciting ideas The John Henry Company is developing. From seasonal pot wraps and QR codes to new merchandising concepts for gifting and its BloomIQ.com website, the people at John Henry are certainly keeping busy but more importantly helping growers and retailers sell more plants. Some growers will always argue good-quality plants sell themselves. Of course, that’s true in some cases, but it’s clearly becoming more important to connect more directly to that key demographic of female consumers–and fun, attractive packaging is the way to do just that. Among some of John Henry’s packaging ideas unveiled at the California Spring Trials are pumpkin and scarecrow pot wraps for the fall season and a special Easter program that involves QR codes connecting smartphone users to short, stop-motion videos of an Easter chick hatching. John Henry also showcased a few brand-specific packaging items, including Plant In […]

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March 29, 2011

QR Codes Becoming More Prevalent

The greenhouse industry got wind of QR codes and Microsoft Tags at last year’s California Spring Trials. QR codes are back in full force this year at Sakata, where MasterTag is showcasing a variety of point-of-purchase materials with QR codes front and center on them. MasterTag is actually teaming with Learn2Grow.com to help educate consumers through QR codes. A smartphone user who downloads the appropriate app can learn everything from growing conditions to soil and water needs about their featured plants through Learn2Grow.com. “We don’t know where this whole thing is going to go,” says Joe Fox, sales and marketing director of MasterTag. “I think a lot of people are going to know what these are by the end of the year.” MasterTag is focusing on QR codes rather than Microsoft Tags because Microsoft is indicating online that it might eventually charge users for its tags. Fox says he’s seen […]

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March 23, 2011

The Curious Case Of The Wholesale Clubs

Walmart’s planogram, like those of the home improvement and supermarket chains, regularly incorporates live goods. The space those chains dedicate to live goods is roughly the same between stores, and the volume growers supply to each respective chain is enough to keep their greenhouses full and their operations in business.   Wholesale clubs are a different beast, though. Yes, BJ’s, Costco and Sam’s Club make up a massive retail channel, but live goods fit into their planograms differently. None of the three has a full-fledged garden center or floral department nationally. Instead, live goods are typically merchandised on wooden pallets and positioned wherever each club can make room for them in stores.   Sure, the live goods approach at the clubs is somewhat perplexing, and the supply challenges their growers face are daunting. But the rewards those growers reap, in many cases, trump the hoops they jump through in supplying […]

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March 23, 2011

5 Questions With A Costco Floral Buyer

Costco floral buyer Ken Hackman shares insights into his wholesale club’s approach to live goods and why he thinks Costco has been so successful selling them.   GG: The wholesale club retail channel is a unique one compared to, say, mass merchandisers (Walmart), home improvement chains (Lowe’s, Home Depot), supermarket chains and independently owned garden centers. There are several differentiating factors I can identify, including numbers of SKUs, volume and the high number of product turns.  In what other ways does Costco strive to be different in regard to live goods? Can you also tell us about the philsophy behind the number of SKUs, volume and the high number of product turns, and why Costco has adopted its specific approach to lawn and garden?   KH: Costco’s business model is based on larger rings, faster turns and low markups on the highest quality merchandise in order to keep our price […]

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March 18, 2011

Pepsi Testing Plant-Based Bottle

PepsiCo has developed a PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based resources, including switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. The “green” bottle is 100 percent recyclable. In the future, the company expects to broaden the renewable sources used to create the “green” bottle to include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from its foods business. “PepsiCo is in a unique position, as one of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses, to ultimately source agricultural byproducts from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally-preferable bottle for our beverages business–a sustainable business model that we believe brings to life the essence of Performance with Purpose,” says PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. Combining biological and chemical processes, PepsiCo has identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical to petroleum-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which results in a bottle that looks, feels and protects its […]

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March 18, 2011

America In Bloom Launches Communities In 2011 Program

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of America in Bloom, citizens in more than 20 towns across America are working on local revitalization programs as they prepare for visits from America in Bloom (AIB) judges. These towns are planting, cleaning and doing everything they can to be in the running to be named the best blooming, most livable town in America.   The America in Bloom competition is open to towns and cities of all sizes. The smallest town has been Shipshewana, Ind., with a population of 536, and the largest is Chicago. To date, nearly 200 towns and cities from 38 states have participated in the program and more than 21 million people have been touched by it. Towns are compared to others in the same population category.   Judging will begin in May and continue through early August. America in Bloom is the only program of its type in the […]

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March 18, 2011

The Public Marketing Of Horticulture

I am fortunate to be invited to speak in many horticultural venues. I thought for sure it was my good looks, but no such luck. People actually want to hear about what we do. I have been doing this for some time and am noticing a trend in the public marketing of horticulture that is a wee bit troubling. Perhaps it has snuck up on us, but without noticing we have become somewhat irrelevant. Most of the time, I speak to you–the industry. We have been educating each other, sharing thoughts, problems, answers and the joys and despairs of what we do. Whether educators, growers, retailers or brokers, we are all trying to enhance our businesses through efficiency and marketing–but we constantly talk to each other. Evolution Of Garden Shows Ten years ago, I was often invited to speak at “home and garden” shows in Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta and other […]

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February 24, 2011

Green Roofs Offer Sky-High Possibilities

Imagine how many plants growers could sell if city governments awarded U.S. businesses $5 for every square foot of garden space they planted. Imagine if the incentive trickled down to the homeowner level, too. City governments are, of course, unlikely to present such incentives for every garden installation within their limits, but what if they took a more active role in promoting the installation of green roofs? Portland, Ore., is already offering a $5-per-square-foot incentive to property owners and developers through 2013 to add more “ecoroofs,” which cost between $5 and $20 per square foot according to the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Cities like Chicago and Washington D.C. have been green roof leaders over the last decade, as well, while Austin, New York City and Philadelphia are becoming more serious about incorporating green roofs into their culture. No, the United States isn’t greening as many acres of roofs as […]

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February 23, 2011

Brand Building With A Comic Superhero

The Amazing Spiderman. The Incredible Hulk. The Adventures of Tommy Treadwell. Wait, Tommy who? Tommy Treadwell, of course. No, Tommy isn’t the world-famous comic superhero Peter Parker and Bruce Banner are. He is, however, the face of the Treadwell perennial brand as the creation of The Perennial Farm in Glen Arm, Md. And now, Tommy has his own comic series. “I think the possibilities really are endless for a comic,” says Tom Watson, Treadwell’s marketing and brand manager. “We lined up about six for this year, each with a specific message.” The first comic in The Adventures of Tommy Treadwell introduces a few of the more popular varieties in the Treadwell line. The next comic, which Kiley indicates will be released sometime in the next couple weeks, will focus on the Treadwell brand website, TreadwellPlants.com, which was launched in January. Yet another idea for 2011 is to put Tommy in […]

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February 18, 2011

On Sustainability: No Two Consumers Are Alike

Savvy marketers rely on the principles of customer segmentation and product targeting to more efficiently allocate scarce resources and effectively reach groups of consumers with similar preferences or demands. It would appear as though many people have jumped on the eco-train, but to what extent have people who purchased plants, many of them gardeners, adopted eco-practices like recycling and composting? Previous research shows some consumers are willing to pay a premium price for green products and share attitudes that are favorable toward the environment. Premium-priced products are assumed to be more profitable, and often are. Still, relatively little is known about gardeners and their ecological attitudes, practices or behaviors. Our objective was to identify and profile consumer segments with regard to their gardening purchases. Are gardeners more eco-friendly? We sought to determine whether there were differences in their eco-friendly attitudes and behaviors, such as recycling. Our underlying belief was that […]

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February 15, 2011

Reconnecting With Consumers Crux Of Seeley Conference

In today’s post-recession marketplace, the “reborn consumer” is asking tougher questions. She is making more critical decisions as to what is really important and what she really needs. Marketers can no longer assume the consumer will return to buy what she has bought before. Indeed, total consumption levels have already returned to pre-recession expenditure levels, but not every subsector of the economy has rebounded, as the consumer is spending differently, buying more in some categories and less in others. At the 26th annual Seeley Conference, greenhouse industry leaders will explore a series of questions through thoughtful, relevant presentations and lively group discussion. Among the questions: –Why are people blind to the plants and flowers that surround them in everyday life? –Can the industry overcome plant blindness and increase mindshare in the consumer by understanding and communicating that our products are necessities in people’s lives and not mere luxuries? –How has […]

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