2 Technologies That Keep Consumers Engaged

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Laura Drotleff

The Burpee Home Garden Coach

With increasing food prices and a trend toward consumers growing their own vegetables, Ball Horticultural Co. wanted to cultivate the consumer’s success by helping gardeners enjoy the literal fruits of their labor. Through Burpee Home Garden Coach, Ball’s veggie-growing division discovered the secret to winning: constant, consistent management.

“To make today’s gardeners more successful, we can’t abandon them as soon as they purchase the plant,” says Diane Hund, Ball’s director of marketing. “Once we knew that, we simply had to choose the delivery vehicle. We had all of the information online, but that requires the user to sift through pages to find the right data. By knowing a bit about the consumer–where they live, what they planted and when–we can send fairly specific information that will increase their success. Texting is simply the most up-to-date way to deliver the information.”

Burpee debuted its Burpee Home Garden Coach last spring. With hopes to have a few hundred “trainees,” the program ended up with several thousand, sending more than 67,000 tips to the collective group. More than 75 percent of trainees used the program through the whole summer.

Data from the National Gardening Association shows that gardening as a household activity continues to decline. Recognizing a need to continue re-marketing products and solutions in a way that speaks to today’s and tomorrow’s consumer, Hund says Ball is dedicated to the task of growing the next generation of gardeners.

“We think today’s gardener needs information and inspiration to be successful,” Hund says. “Our efforts are tailored to ensure they get these two things at three critical times–before they shop, when they shop and when they are gardening. Our digital, advertising and PR efforts help the consumer know what to buy and where to shop. Once in the store, we have inspirational POP and information-rich QR codes on the tags. The garden coach is just one way to help them once they start to garden.”


SINCE launching BloomIQ.com in 2010, the John Henry Company’s online plant selection and garden design resource has become a go-to gardening website, with plans to expand beyond the U.S. market.

Until recently, it was virtually impossible to fit everything a gardener needs to know onto plant tags. Still, inspiration, design ideas and a gardening knowledge have been lacking where customers need them most–in the garden center.

John Henry recognized the opportunity to provide inspiration, ideas and knowledge with the launch of its QR code program in August 2010. The company partnered with AllRecipes.com as a way to turn plants into ingredients, and ingredients into a meal. John Henry then took this concept to the next level and created a free consumer website, BloomIQ.com, where gardeners can go for inspiration, information and ideas.

The goal with BloomIQ is to inspire gardeners and make them feel more confident about their choices and relaxed about gardening. BloomIQ provides garden collections with simple recipes using six or fewer varieties.

John Henry helps gardeners select companion plants by offering three options for every plant they can look up when they are in the garden center.

BloomIQ regularly surveys gardeners and tailors content to be relevant and responsive to their needs. It leverages site analytics to spot trends in plants, collections and articles, and informs growers of these trends so they can better market their plants around gardening themes or solutions.

Laura Drotleff is editor of Greenhouse Grower.

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