I’ll admit it. I’m a fan of Apple products. My first iPhone served me faithfully for five years without a hitch. The old MAC at my previous job never troubled me with mundane things like viruses and excessive maintenance. And my seven-year-old iPad looks a little worse for wear, but still manages to play my favorite movies with ease. Recently, I bypassed a new iPhone in favor of a cheaper Android alternative. After only a few months, my frustration with the device has me aching to return to a fuss-free iPhone, never again to venture disloyally down another path.
I will be the first to say Apple products don’t come cheap. If I am going to make the investment, I expect top value in return, which means good quality and superior performance. It’s no different with the plants we sell.
We are hearing more talk in our industry about the need to raise prices to cover escalating production costs, and I agree the time is right to move in that direction. However, let’s face it; consumers often equate value with price. Before we set a price point that makes people think twice about the importance of plants in their lives, let’s get them thinking about the quality of the plants we sell, in addition to the benefits they provide. Because after all, a majority of us are less reluctant to lay down our cash if the perceived, long-term payoff of what we plan to buy outweighs the price.
After visiting with breeders this month, I believe our industry is on the right path to exchanging quality and performance for higher prices. Something Dan Heims, president of Terra Nova Nurseries, said in an interview really stuck with me: “Customers may depart briefly for cheaper alternatives, but they often return for superior genetics.”
Isn’t this the goal, to have loyal customers who return to the same plants time and time again? To have customers who return, not because of price, but owing to a plant brand that shouts top-notch garden performance and is synonymous with excellence, which gives them the secure knowledge that their investment will be worth every hard-earned cent.
Breeders pretty much agree that achieving this goal requires breeding with the end goal in mind. That is — plants that endure in the marketplace. In “Today’s Big Perennial Remains Tomorrow’s Tried-And-True” on page 86, breeders share their thoughts on what it takes to breed a plant that retains customer satisfaction in the market for the long term and what perennials we can expect to see more of in the future.
Industry members head to California in droves every April, looking for the next big thing. In “Back To California” on page 16, you’ll see a sneak preview of new varieties premiering at the 2015 California Spring Trials that will get you pumped up for the long-anticipated event. Talk about superior genetics. And this is just a small slice of the great plants that will share the spotlight at the main events in April.
I wonder if one of these new introductions will become my go-to variety. The variety I recommend to my children for their gardens; the one I know won’t let them down because its value isn’t measured in dollars.