Is Low-Maintenance The Way To Reach The Millennial Generation?

Joe Lamp’l is creator, host and executive producer of the award winning PBS series Growing a Greener World, which focuses on the stories of people ,places and organizations that are doing good things for the planet, with an emphasis on gardening. As an industry leader in environmental media, he also shares his expertise on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Victory Garden and other national media.

Lamp’l talked with Greenhouse Grower about how our industry can grow its customer base by connecting with potential gardeners ­­­— and the Millennial generation in particular.

GG: What are some of the shared characteristics of Millennials?

JL: What we know in general, whether it’s the horticulture industry or the television industry or anything else is that this Millennial, the Generation Y group that is age 17 to 32 right now doesn’t have a lot of money and marriage and home buying aren’t top priorities. They’re into family, into doing things for others, but they’re sort of into self-expression rather than seeing what they can accumulate quickly.

A lot of industries are still trying to cater to them even though they’re not at the point yet where they’re spending a lot of money on our products. The reason why we need to really get their attention is to develop consistent buying patterns and loyalties to whatever our product and brand is so when they start spending money, they’re already loyal to us.

GG: What’s the best way to reach them, to get them interested in gardening?

JL: The reason our industry is so ripe for a little bit of a facelift is that Millennials are into self-expression. As an example, look at the way the food network as taken off. The whole food and restaurant scene is so hip and hot these days. I think television had a lot to do with making that happen by lifting up these celebrity chefs. You didn’t even hear that term ten years ago. Younger people are cooking now; it’s not just a dish — it’s a process in expression and creativity; it’s a whole experience.

There’s no reason why we can’t take that concept and bring it out into the garden and the landscape — because that’s where the real self-expression takes place. That’s where you can make a statement about who you are. It’s the first impression people get when they come to visit you and hang out on your balcony. Maybe you don’t have a house, but you have created a pallet garden on your balcony with some really cool succulents or edibles. Just like farmers’ markets can supply great ingredients for a food dish, we can supply ingredients for that young Millennial so they can put together a great creation with plants.

Millennials work really hard — they’re very driven. Yet at the same time, when they get their down time they want to slow down. You know, we have emphasized this low-maintenance, easy-gardening thing, but maybe that’s not really what they want. Maybe they want us to help them understand that this is part of a lifestyle — and it doesn’t have to be something where you just throw it in a pot and forget it.

GG: That does run counter to the message we’ve been hearing for a while now. How can we make the process of gardening appealing.

JL: It requires work on our part in the green industry to think of different plants and different ways to provide that inspiration so people can see it. People are visual. Most people aren’t creative enough to come up with this on their own, especially when they don’t know their choices. If we can give them the pieces and help show them the process, I think we’re going to make some great strides.

Going back to the food industry — you can’t just weigh out some ingredients in front of somebody and cut to the finished dish and say, “There you go.” People like to see the process — they like to see why one ingredient goes with another. They want to learn. The more they know the more empowered they feel to do it themselves. In our industry we just sort of hand them the planted container — the finished product and say, “Here you are.” Where’s the self-expression in that? If we can give them a container with the different ingredients and talk to them about the soil, the container, the things you can do to make your whole creation healthier — maybe that’s the link we can create outside that the chefs and the Food Network are doing inside. It makes the whole process sexier.

GG: Do you feel like the green industry is lagging behind other industries when it comes to marketing?

JL: Yes I do. I don’t think we’re doing as good a job as we could to make the experience of gardening desirable. We can all appreciate how a good landscape or a nice garden looks. I don’t think enough people understand that the process of getting there can be pleasureable. Definitely there’s some sweat and some dirty hands involved. But that can be a good thing.

Going back to the Millennials, they like getting their hands dirty however they get them dirty. Again, it’s a vehicle and outlet for self-expression. I don’t think the gardening industry gets that. They haven’t made gardening sexy like the food industry has at all. We need to show more young people gardening, telling what they like about the process. It’s not just the plants, it’s everything together. We’re just not telling the story right.

We need to get some cool-looking people involved in some marketing and advertising campaigns. Let’s face it — that’s what sells and everybody does it that way. They use sexy people to make the product sexy. That’s a huge opportunity that we’re missing there to help people see that our industry is cool and the products we provide for them are cool too.

GG: What do you say to growers who say, “There’s so many different ways to market. I don’t know where to begin —how do I know what works?”

JL: I say to growers, maybe you don’t worry as much about your advertising. You support the people — the retail garden center — that are buying your product who are connecting to the end user. You do the best job you can growing the best plants you can and see how you can support the retailer. It’s a partnership. Don’t stress out about not being so connected with social media, because frankly, the end user isn’t going to have a personal connection to the grower. But they do have a personal connection with their independent garden center. I think that’s where the social media comes in and where the real integration between product and end user happens. Growers need to provide the best support they can to make the retailer’s job as easy as possible so they can focus on the end user. Then it benefits everybody.

Leave a Reply

More From Greenhouse Grower's GROW...
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future Initiative

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More
Marshall Dirks, Proven Winners

October 28, 2017

5 Rules for Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Garden Memories

Many customers are time starved. Their most important asset is time, not money, so be realistic about the investment of both when they are buying plants.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
Latest Stories
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future In…

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More
Marshall Dirks, Proven Winners

October 28, 2017

5 Rules for Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Garden Memor…

Many customers are time starved. Their most important asset is time, not money, so be realistic about the investment of both when they are buying plants.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
Luxflora Paris Trip

October 20, 2017

Luxflora Paris Trip Offers Insights on Trends Shaping H…

Each year, Luxflora hosts an international trip that allows participants to gain insights on trends and gather inspiration that ultimately will shape and support our industry in many ways. This year’s event took the group to Maison & Objet and Design Week in the City of Lights – Paris, France.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From …

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Bes…

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Jan Gulley, Gulley Greenhouses

August 25, 2017

Why It’s Important to Educate and Engage the New Hortic…

Young adults entering the workforce have more professional choices than ever before, and many want to work in environments in which their work has a clear purpose for both the organization and society at large.

Read More
Seed Your Future feature

July 26, 2017

Seed Your Future Aims to Inspire Careers in Plants

Who will be the next generation of horticulturists? The answer lies in helping to change the perception of horticulture and using contemporary new language to tell our stories.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

July 8, 2017

How You Can Use Lifestyle Marketing to Sell Plants

Should we be trying to educate consumers into loving what we like to produce, or should we allow consumers to educate us into producing what they love?

Read More
Metrolina Make a Wish Greenhouse

July 7, 2017

Metrolina Builds, Decorates Greenhouse for Young Cancer…

When Michael VanWingerden and his wife Courtney heard through their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation that 11-year-old Jason wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables in, they knew Metrolina Greenhouses could help.

Read More
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More
Cannabis Adobe Stock feature

May 1, 2017

Why I Turned Down a High-Paying Offer to Grow Cannabis …

Young growers have passion for all aspects of organic and sustainable growing. The key to not losing them to the cannabis industry, according to Kelly Vance, a Technical Consultant for Beneficial Insectary, may be nurturing their interests in these fields by aligning greenhouse production with sustainable growing practices.

Read More
National Collegiate Landscape Competition Feature

April 27, 2017

Hoffman Nursery Cheers On the Next Generation of Hortic…

Hoffman Nursery was a sponsor of the recent 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition, an event that offers several opportunities for companies in the green industry to meet and recruit the next-generation of horticulturists.

Read More
Kaylee South

April 22, 2017

American Floral Endowment Announces Winners of 2017 Pau…

Four students pursuing careers in horticulture now have scholarships to help them along the way, thanks to the American Floral Endowment.

Read More
Basil Planting feature

March 29, 2017

How You Can Embrace Greenhouse Food Production With Con…

Maintaining balance, learning continuously, and seeking support will help make your transition into producing greenhouse food crops a smooth one.

Read More
If your Wi-Fi is truly secure, your staff can help customers on the sales floor starting today

March 25, 2017

What Marketing Approach Can Attracts the Most Customers…

Inc.com surveyed more than a thousand customers to find out which marketing strategies worked best to entice them to try out a new business

Read More