What Floriculture Can Learn From The Alcoholic Beverage Industry

Marta Maria Garcia of Costa Farms

Never underestimate the power of marketing, or the potential of a product with a great story behind it. These are the two primary elements that launched Grey Goose from an unknown contender in the vodka category in 1996 to a premium brand and a $2 billion (that’s right, billion) pricetag in its sale to Bacardi a mere eight years later.

How is that possible, you ask? It’s all in the story, a killer marketing and advertising strategy and a little bit of serendipity. You see, founder Sidney Frank identified a hole in the vodka market, where a $17 bottle of Absolut was the top of the line. He topped that with an ultra-premium brand at an eye-popping $30 a bottle with his French-imported vodka, and concocted a marketing scheme that engrained its talking points of quality and luxury with bartenders, distributors and influencers – the consumers who mattered.

“Bacardi purchased Grey Goose when I was with Bacardi,” recalls Marta Maria Garcia, director of marketing at Costa Farms. “They paid $2 billion for the brand – that speaks volumes to what a good marketing investment can do for you. They took this premium vodka positioning; they built that category. There’s a huge category now that is premium vodka. Grey Goose revamped a category within the industry.”

What does this all have to do with growing ornamental flowers? Everything for an industry at the crossroads and looking for ways to improve margin while elevating its products to the next level. See, all those dollars between the $17 Absolut and the $30 Grey Goose is all profit, according to a 2005 profile on the brand in New York Magazine.

Brands still matter, though the story behind it is really the key. So what can greenhouse growers learn from the liquor industry? One key lesson is to tell your product’s story, and not just on the pot. Marketing is key to getting that story out to the right people, whether it’s media publications, retailers or direct to consumers.

Breaking Down The Barriers

For Garcia, one of the biggest obstacles to reaching consumers buying plants is the education factor. Garden retail customers are intimidated by the product and the lack of directions or instruction that often accompanies plants. Coming from Bacardi’s experience marketing division, Garcia realized the best way to educate customers and create an unforgettable experience at the same time is almost always in person.

“One of the things we used to do at Bacardi was get involved with events,” she says. “I spearheaded for Bacardi Rum their experience marketing efforts. That was a big deal for Bacardi because a lot of the consumer loyalty that came from Bacardi drinkers came from experiences Bacardi hosted in places like bars and at music events.”

When Garcia transitioned to Costa Farms in 2007, she brought that knowledge with her and set about to create a similar strategy with Costa’s experts in the greenhouse.

“The first spring, we went out to retailers and did educational events every weekend with our growers – they are the experts growing the plants,” she says, adding the events, called Meet The Growers, were on Saturday mornings and involved activities with the kids so parents could shop, too. “We’ve been doing it for four springs now, and the stores keep asking for it.

“That was a really big case study; applying how to engage consumers through experience. Here, the lack of knowledge was evident, and what better way to educate than an in-person event with the growers.”

Marketing Lessons For Growers

Imagine having a brand that practically sells itself. Again, the history of the product here is vital. The 23-year-old micro-brewery Great Lakes Brewing Co. (GLBC) in Cleveland, Ohio, enjoys a tremendous word-of-mouth following for its seasonal release of Christmas Ale each year. Area beer drinkers await word from the brewery that their favorite seasonal brew is returning to area taps and happily spread the word to each other.

The key is the marketing efforts of the brewing company. Great Lakes spreads the word via social media, area media and eNewsletters to consumers that hype the release date. It’s a big deal among beer fans. “We get our fans excited for the release date and try to send out as much information as we can. This goes for all seasonals,” says Lauren Boveington, marketing assistant at Great Lakes Brewing Co. “It’s all about educating the public on how to drink beer. Craft beer is just like wine. (It) pairs great with food, and there is so much artistry that goes into making a delicious craft brew.”

Again with the education. But providing that comfort level via in-person events also helps to spread the word about the seasonal releases, as well as the other offerings at the brew pub.

This statement from Boveington says it all: “One of the reasons why we don’t do heavy media buys is because we choose to invest in people. We are only in 13 regions and have over 20 sales reps. Some larger breweries that are in 30 states only have 10 sales reps. Our sales reps work with our distributors and accounts to promote our product. We feel having that personal brand representation to connect with our customers markets our product best. They are spreading the word on our product and GLBC’s history and explaining our ‘Triple Bottom Line.’ They get involved with tap takeovers, special releases, beer dinners and beer festivals. We want to educate the public on our brand and craft beer.”

How many times have members of a grower’s staff gone out to a retailer’s store to act as an ambassador for the grower’s products? Retailers carry thousands of SKUs from a wide range of suppliers, and they can’t always promote each product with the knowledge and enthusiasm the grower of the product could.

Using Technology To Connect

Nothing beats a face-to-face encounter. However, to accentuate the relationship between growers and their customers, as well as to educate the consumer about the grower’s product, technology can be an extremely useful tool. For some examples of this, check out the use of Great Lakes Brewery’s blog, Facebook page and Twitter account to get consumers excited about the release of Christmas Ale (which, by the way, is gone by Thanksgiving). Get your search started at GreatLakesBrewing.com.

In October, the brew pub asked customers via social channels to write about their favorite Christmas Ale memory. And while the brew pub received more than 100 entries, all of which could be read by other fans of the company, the winner received the first pour of Christmas Ale. A small, yet meaningful prize that continued to build the brand and its – forgive the pun – buzz.

Growers in cooperation with retailers could translate this into contests asking consumers for stories about their favorite plants or gardens. Prizes could be brand-spanking new plants not yet released for sale.

Growers also can learn from alcoholic beverage companies when it comes to creating a robust website about their products. A website is a great way to tell a story, and social media can help to push interested consumers back to the site for more information and additional product knowledge. Creating a marketing program to push those products is the next step for many growers looking to gain a competitive edge.

“Coming into this industry and seeing that no marketing has really been done at the level other packaged goods companies have been doing is pretty amazing,” Garcia says. “It’s fresh, fertile ground with so many areas of opportunity. It’s just a matter of having the vision and the guts behind it.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “What Floriculture Can Learn From The Alcoholic Beverage Industry

  1. Thanks for this excellent piece of journalism Jen. This is a great example of the type of marketing thinking we need more of in this industry. I hope this is an indication of what Costa will start to do to show others that we can stop the race to the bottom of plant supply and start taking new products to the top!

More From Marketing...
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why Consumers Are Buying Flowers And Plants

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More
Webinar Photo from Flickr

May 7, 2016

How You Can Connect With A Broader Audience Through Webinars

Webinars are time-saving and effective marketing tools that can extend your reach to a greater audience.

Read More

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
Latest Stories
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why C…

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More
Webinar Photo from Flickr

May 7, 2016

How You Can Connect With A Broader Audience Through Web…

Webinars are time-saving and effective marketing tools that can extend your reach to a greater audience.

Read More

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