April 28, 2010

Metrolina Market Report

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent the weekend in Charlotte visiting the Lowe’s and Walmart garden centers Metrolina Greenhouses serves, among other garden centers in the Charlotte area. Below are his findings from the April 24-25 weekend. On Saturday (April 24), retail traffic was heavy and consumers were buying like there would be no plants available tomorrow. Vegetables, as usual, were getting a lot of attention with the Bonnie displays being pillaged, especially at Lowe’s, which ran a buy-one, get-one free on 5-inch SKUs. I observed many hanging baskets and potted annuals in the larger patio containers seemed to be a little sluggish at retail. On Sunday, after a huge overnight storm, it was overcast and threatening rain until about 2 p.m. when the sun appeared. Most of the day was slow at retail until the sun came out. Then the pace picked up but nowhere near Saturday’s pace. It is […]

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April 26, 2010

Tesselaar Enters Mobile Market

Tesselaar Plants wants to engage consumers through their mobile phones, and it is listing its entire plant collection with a new online and mobile garden research tool called the GardenPilot. “We’ve entered the age of mobile marketing because the always-on nature of mobile devices provides more timely communications than any other marketing channel,” says Anthony Tesselaar, company co-founder and president. “GardenPilot enables consumers to access vital information about our plants in seconds using their phone.” According to Gartner Group, a leading technology analyst firm, mobile browsing is a widely available technology present on more than 60 percent of mobile phones shipped in 2009, a percentage Gartner expects to rise to approximately 80 percent in 2013. GardenPilot is ideal for garden experts or those new to gardening because it features more than 13,000 beautifully illustrated plant information pages, along with helpful tips and advice from renowned gardening experts and plant breeders. […]

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April 21, 2010

Atlanta Market A Reason For Optimism

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent Saturday, April 17, visiting big box retail garden centers, including two Pike Nurseries stores, in the Atlanta region. All garden centers were crowded, he says, and consumers in the area clearly have a garden fever. Talk about a market being on fire: In the Atlanta area, garden centers were packed and in some stores, it was almost impossible to find a parking spot within 500 yards of garden centers. The weather was perfect with night temperatures in the low 50s and days in the upper 70s. The vegetable displays were extremely busy and many of the Bonnie Plant displays were almost empty by the end of the day Saturday (April 17). Although the average vegetable sale appears to carry a much lower sales value than bedding plants, the add-ons with vegetables as a percentage is much greater. I would often see a cart leaving the […]

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April 15, 2010

Change Is A Good Thing

Our industry has always felt changes in certain areas over others, but over the last three years we have entered into more collective rhetoric than ever. The rhetoric is probably driven by more obvious high-impact results than we have experienced in the past. The results of change have been eye opening because the No. 1 result has been the loss of greenhouse businesses at a rate we have never before seen. According to USDA, the number of grower businesses has declined every year since 2001–a clear sign of industry change. What Happened? The retailers took charge and now make the decisions growers used to make. Many growers are mad and would like to return to the “good old days,” but that isn’t going to happen. While the retailers took charge, they also provided more retail selling space than we could ever have envisioned, creating more than 100 million square feet […]

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April 5, 2010

Orlando IGC Trumps Box Stores

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery visited garden centers at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart on Saturday, March 27 around Orlando, Fla. He also spent time at Lukas Nursery in Oviedo and visited Costco and Sam’s Club. Below are his findings: Consumers were out in droves on this ideal spring day, and all garden centers I visited were crowded with goods moving rapidly off shelves. The spring season has clearly arrived after an unseasonably harsh winter. Although I observed good sales velocity–with green goods there were incredible quantities of bagged goods being sold–it had to be a huge weekend for companies like Scott’s. Home Depot Although Home Depot is a major player in green goods, it seems to sell higher percentages of dry goods than Walmart or Lowe’s–from many hours of observations. Bonnie Plants has a huge presence here with large inventories, prime space allocation and well-merchandised material on risers with improved […]

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March 16, 2010

The Catch Of E-Commerce

Retail sales online continue to grow faster than sales at brick and mortar stores, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story. In 2009, e-commerce grew 11 percent in the United States, and additional research predicts it will grow another 11 percent this year. However, e-commerce still only accounts for 7 percent of all U.S. shopping (excluding auto, travel and prescription drugs), according to the story. And retailers need to carefully consider the pros and cons of an e-commerce presence. State laws dictate the tax liability for retailers, and a lot of times it’s not favorable to small businesses. For example, many states require customers who are in the same state as the business to pay sales tax on items they purchase online. Meanwhile, major online retailers like Amazon.com can avoid charging those taxes for a majority of its customers, which makes it a more favorable site to shop. Some […]

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March 16, 2010

Is A Pickup Yard In Your Future?

Answering customer demands for fast, convenient access to quality plant material, Pleasant View Gardens will reopen its pickup yard Monday, April 26, at its location in Pembroke, N.H. “The pickup yard makes life easier,” says customer Brenda Dymet of D. McLeod Florist in Concord, N.H. “It’s like having a great market to shop. You go in and pick out just what you want. For me it was very convenient and good quality.” Convenience and quality are exactly what Pleasant View had in mind when it launched the pickup yard last year. “It gives customers the fresh, quality plants they want, when they need them,” says Ben Huntington, pickup yard manager. “They can pick out the specific plants they want so they know exactly what they’re getting.” This year, Pleasant View has expanded and refined the pickup yard’s selection. For example, Pleasant View is stocking more of the hard-to-find and always-in-demand […]

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March 3, 2010

Not Much New At National Retailers

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent the weekend February 27 and 28 in Southeast Florida touring garden centers at Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and other retail locations. Below are his findings in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas. The weather was ideal for gardening with day temperatures in the low 70s. It did rain in the late afternoon on Saturday, the 27th, but the weather was sunny and warm on Sunday, the 28th. It was somewhat surprising to observe how little traffic there was at retail. Of course, traffic varied by time of day and there was a steady stream of it. But very few stores were crowded, with Costco being the exception. It seemed to be at capacity. Walmart Walmart is sticking with its “less-is-more” concept with minimal SKUs and a major focus on outdoor foliage. Lots of damage was observed in this area coming out of one of the […]

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March 2, 2010

Lowe’s TV Marketing Plans For Spring

Lowe’s has decided to focus on its employees with its spring TV commercial campaign this year. Lowe’s will do this by giving the actors who play the employees as much screen time in the initial commercials as the actors who play customers, The New York Times’ Stuart Elliot reports. In advertising, Lowe’s employees will come across as knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. “Everything we do in the campaign is grounded in service and value, because that’s where the consumer lives right now,” says Tom Lamb, senior vice president of marketing for Lowe’s. Lowe’s creative agency, BBDO New York has made several changes to this year’s advertising, which includes no longer using the voice of Gene Hackman to narrate commercials. A new slogan is also in place. In the past it was “Lowe’s: Let’s build something together.” Now the slogan is “Experience. Lowe’s. Let’s build something together.” Or, “Experience Lowe’s. Let’s build […]

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February 19, 2010

Burpee Launches Consumer Ad Campaign

Businesses signed up with the Burpee Home Gardens program to grow and sell premium vegetables and herbs will experience an influx of media and marketing support this year, which will include a comprehensive and exciting consumer print advertising push to reach shoppers during the height of the gardening season. Throughout 2010, Burpee Home Gardens will run full-page ad placements in seven national consumer publications for a total of 14 ad pages, ultimately achieving more than 19 million impressions through magazines alone. The magazines are Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Health, Parents, Food Network magazine, Vegetarian Times and Urban Farm. Ads begin running in April to reach the target audience as they’re looking for more vegetable-gardening content. “These publications have been hand-picked by Burpee Home Gardens as part of our big consumer media campaign to reach our targeted audience: the casual gardener looking for more information on growing her own vegetables,” […]

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February 18, 2010

A Grower’s View: Marketing In A Slow Economy

Scott Titus, owner of Windy Meadow Nursery in Bellingham, Wash., has an idea to generate long-term sales and it involves giving away free vegetable starts. Free?! Hear him out. Because of the recent economic conditions, companies have lowered their prices more than any time in the past 50 years. Microsoft recently reduced the price for leasing software by more than 25 percent. When companies reduce the price of their products, they must also cut their variable costs to remain profitable. As sales volume and profitability decline, so must the number of employees within the company. The pricing level a retailer sets is a double-edged sword. Price your product too high and you will lose market share to low-cost competitors like big box stores. Higher margin pricing strategies target customers who are less sensitive to price. Last summer, Starbucks lowered prices on staple items like iced coffee to compete with McDonalds […]

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February 17, 2010

Seeley Conference To Discuss Environmental Footprint

The 25th annual Seeley conference will be held June 26-29 in Ithaca, N.Y. The theme this year will be: “Floriculture’s Environmental Footprint: An Inconvenient Truth or Consumer Opportunity?” For several years, we’ve heard about global warming and climate change as issues we need to address. The debate has had arguments spanning from compelling science to just a natural cycling of weather patterns. Now, legislators the world over have begun to amend the dialogue to one of measuring the carbon footprint. Scientists have added water to the equation and are now beginning to speak of measuring the entire environmental footprint. For our industry, the issues are more compelling. We think of ourselves as being the original green industry but we often fail to promote that, perhaps, partly out of fear. Do we know what our environmental footprint really is? Are we as green as we think? Do we have an opportunity […]

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