Good News On The Economy [Opinion]

Robin Siktberg

Despite a season with frustrating weather, it was great to see mostly positive reports coming in from our Spring 2013 Recap Survey. And it was even better to see an article in the August 12th issue of Time that provided support on a macro level to what growers are saying they’re seeing in their own businesses.

In “Why the Economy Should Pop,” author Robert Altman, former deputy secretary of the treasury during the Clinton Administration, says the economy is growing (1.7 percent in the second quarter) and is poised for significant growth in 2014 — in the 3 to 5 percent range. He expects this growth to continue for two or three more years.

It’s good news for the green industry, because some of the factors driving this growth directly affect plant purchasing. Altman says growth in the housing market is key. The glut of unsold homes has finally normalized, and demand is increasing. The number of people buying or renting for the first time has doubled from its low and is rising.

Altman predicts residential investment will grow 15 to 20 percent. That will provide jobs  and revenue in all the related services, including landscaping.

More jobs also mean more disposable income. As we know, consumer spending bottomed out in the depth of the recession, at a time of high consumer debt. According to Altman, both of those factors have normalized. Household debt has fallen to historical lows, and household net worth is at a record high. Consumer confidence is finally returning, and retail sales increased 5.7 percent in June compared to the same time last year.

So, consumers have more to spend. How do we make sure they spend it with us? By adjusting to the new normal. Meet these new householders where they are. Market to them on social media, grow plants they are interested in — which are not necessarily the ones you’ve always grown. Provide them with the instant gardens they crave, even if you don’t understand why they don’t want to do it themselves.
Gen Y is focused on lifestyle, which includes décor and healthy living. As an industry, we have to make sure they understand plants are an essential part of that healthy lifestyle. Help your retailers promote the benefits of plants, so consumers will not just look at plants as extras, but as essential components of their homes.

“I learned my lesson about being too cocky,” says a grower in our Spring Recap Survey. “I wasn’t complacent; I have always tried to learn and grow new things. But if 2013 has taught me anything, it is that I have gotten too comfortable in our business. I need to step it up a notch and make more decisions based on market trends and less on what I have always done. We need change.”

Well said.

Leave a Reply

More From Editorial...
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories
Laura Drotleff

March 4, 2015

Celebrate Women In Horticulture

Women have always played a crucial role in the horticulture industry, not only from a consumer point-of-view, where traditionally our biggest customers have been women, but also as prominent business leaders and owners, growers, breeders, marketers, researchers and matriarchs of industry family empires.

Read More
Janeen Wright

March 2, 2015

Deliver Plant Quality That Trumps Price [Opinion]

The industry's goal is to have loyal customers who return to the same plants time and time again, 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.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

February 10, 2015

Biocontrols Aren’t Scary [Opinion]

Crafting a softer pest management program is likely in everyone’s future — if it’s not here already, especially due to increasing regulation and growing consumer concern over pesticide use. Learn more about biocontrols to determine how they could fit in with your goals and production practices.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 5, 2015

“Growers Are Artisans” [Opinion]

We need to elevate the craft of growing to attract young talent to our industry.

Read More

December 1, 2014

Consumers, Retailers Only Hearing Voices Of Protest

Speak up about your operation's responsible practices.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

November 12, 2014

5 Ways Growers Can Be More Sustainable [Opinion]

While you're still preparing your operation for spring and investing in new ideas, consider employing some of these improvements to save money and resources.

Read More

October 1, 2014

Greenhouse Grower Issues A New Challenge To The Industr…

Let's rally behind the healthy pollinators initiative. How will you step up to the challenge?

Read More

September 15, 2014

What Does Precision Horticulture Mean To You?

Precision horticulture is what you do every day — growing with precision for efficiency and profitability.

Read More

July 28, 2014

How Gen X & Y Horticulturists Will Change The Indus…

Seek out young professionals in the industry and in your operation to develop new ways to do business, improve communication and address consumers. How have you cultivated ideas from younger generations?

Read More
Laura Drotleff

July 8, 2014

Consider Hiring Non-Traditional Growers To Secure Our I…

Your operation can benefit from hiring returning veterans, professionals changing careers and non-traditional students, in addition to horticulture graduates. Where have you had luck recruiting?

Read More
Carol Miller

June 3, 2014

Consumer Success Is Key To Industry Success [Opinion]

Many breeders are aware of the problem and are striving to ensure that plants in a customer’s home garden will live up to the visual appeal the plant has on a store display bench. A lot of the resulting plants were on display in California.

Read More

June 3, 2014

Active Grower Voices Are Invaluable To Retailers, Consu…

Creating our own advocacy is an important tool in areas like presenting science-based knowledge about pollinator health, and informing the public about how growers already preserve natural resources through responsible practices like integrated pest management (IPM), water reclamation and recycling, plastic recycling and sustainability initiatives.

Read More

May 7, 2014

Stand Firm, But Speak Gently

Teach your community about how much the floriculture industry depends on pollinators and the responsible actions we take to ensure their safety. Listen to consumer concerns, help build bee havens and hotels and promote and plant pollinator-friendly gardens.

Read More

March 26, 2014

The Case For Locally Grown

A growing consumer desire for locally grown produce is one reason greenhouse ornamentals producers should consider vegetable production.

Read More

March 10, 2014

Geek Is The New Chic

Let's make it a priority to show kids and the general public how cool horticulture really is.

Read More

February 1, 2014

Are eCommerce And Non-Traditional Retail Outlets Right …

Evaluate your business to determine how you can make your products and services more relevant to next-generation consumers.

Read More

December 31, 2013

Plants Are Our Friends — With Benefits

Communicating the health benefits of plants is an effective way to market to younger generations.

Read More
Laura Drotleff (right) and Robin Siktberg

December 2, 2013

Change And The Next 30 Years Of The Greenhouse Industry…

The December 2013 issue of Greenhouse Grower is all about change. Change for you and your greenhouse business and for our industry as a whole. Some changes will be no-brainers. Some will be hard. Some will take a lot of imagination and creativity. But they’re all changes for the better.

Read More