Benchmarks: Let’s Change Our Story

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson was in the news recently, commenting on McDonald’s plan to review its cooking methods and get rid of some of the unhealthy ingredients it uses, all in an effort to boost sales by changing the perception that it serves junk food.

In an Associated Press article, Thompson is quoted as saying that McDonald’s Corp. has failed to keep up with changing tastes, with people moving toward foods they feel are fresh or wholesome.
What is McDonald’s really doing? Changing its story, and with it the company hopes to create a new reality — one in which customers think about the restaurant chain differently.

As an industry, we can learn from McDonald’s growing pains — keep up with consumers’ changing tastes or be left behind. In addition to working with environmentally conscious consumers whose health ranks high among their priorities and time a close second, we are also working with consumers whose perception of plants is that they are just a pretty face, which limits how they view plants role in their lives and indirectly affects where they spend their hard-earned cash.

As you will discover in our cover story, “Growers Are Successfully Marketing The Benefits Of Plants,” several companies and organizations are working to change that story by promoting plants psychological, physical and environmental benefits. Delray Plants and Costa Farms, for instance, harness social media to present simple plant benefits messages that consumers can personally identify with, while organizations like the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) and Green Plants for Green Buildings develop tools and resources that growers and grower-retailers can tap to help spread the message.

Group editor Carol Miller’s GROW Perspective article, “We Need More People To Buy Plants,” shares how our sister publication Today’s Garden Center’s 10% Project is working to get more people to buy plants through research, marketing and real-world testing with retailers. Research results from the project show that consumers think luck, not knowledge or expertise, determines if plants live or die. That’s another story we need to change.

Speaking of retailers, we’ve added the Retailer To Grower (We’re All In This Together) column to address issues that challenge grower and retailer relationships. Throughout the year, look to the column for ideas on how growers and retailers can work together to achieve their common goal of meeting customer needs.

Finally, don’t miss the 2015 State Of The Industry report, which gives you the big picture of where our industry is headed this year. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say growers are gearing up for an exciting year with a few changes in production plans and continuing concerns about the future of neonicotinoids, upcoming governmental regulations and other hot-button issues.

This is the beginning of a new year, another chapter in our book. Much like a story evolves and changes with each chapter, we have the opportunity to change our story, creating a new reality where plants are valued for more than their physical beauty, customers are buying more plants than ever and our industry continues to grow and remain strong.

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