Perspective: Bridget Behe

GROW Invest In The Industry

In the October issue of Greenhouse Grower, we introduced the 10% Project, an initiative of sister magazine Today’s Garden Center to raise sales by 10 percent. This month, Michigan State University professor Dr. Bridget Behe, who was instrumental in getting the 10% Project’s pricing study off the ground, talks about what the study and future 10% Project initiatives mean for growers.

Greenhouse Grower: How did you first get involved in the 10% Project?

Bridget Behe: [Today’s Garden Center Editor] Carol Miller gave me a call very early spring, late winter last year and said, “I am interested in studying or investigating how price changes would influence demand of quantity sold.” I said, “That sounds really exciting. Count me in. How can I help?”

I helped with the setup of the study, in terms of how the data should be collected and what data should be collected. Carol was instrumental in getting the cooperation of the retailers and their buy-in for the protocol. Dr. Charlie Hall and Dr. Marco Palma at Texas A&M University were very helpful, and Dr. Marco Palma conducted the statistical analysis. It was very much a team effort.

GG: What did you learn from the 10% Project’s pricing study?

Behe: What I learned probably wasn’t as surprising to me as it may have been to growers and retailers, and that is, you can increase prices of some products and remain profitable.

Now at first glance, that might seem counterintuitive. If you raise prices you would be selling fewer units. Well, that is often true, but if you look at the profit margin and you look at the potential to make a higher margin on fewer units, the possibility to increase total revenue and profits is there. We were able to document that possibility.

GG: You say you can increase prices on some products. How do you know which ones can be sold for more?

Behe: That is a very important question. It is going to be easier to raise prices and remain profitable on the products that are easily differentiated — the products that have differences that the customer values.

Let me give you an example. Newer products, either colors or cultivars, often have more value or perceived value than colors, cultivars or products that have been on the market for some time. This is especially true for visual characteristics like flower color. Customers can see the difference, and some will say, “Wow, that’s new.” Often that newness will be worth more. Sometimes it is a new combination of plants that look good together and will grow well together. Sometimes it is a new plant form, something that is dwarf, weeping, trailing or vining. Whichever products have differences the customer can see and value, those are the ones that are prime targets for price increases. The other way we can differentiate products is through branding. Some customers will see the difference in branded plants and some won’t, but the brand name gives us another basis for differentiation.

GG: The study focused on retailers, but can growers raise prices, too?

Behe: I think the potential is there to share in the benefits of selling fewer units at higher prices. I think the growers’ best option is to work with retailers and say, “What products can I help you differentiate? What products might you and I both get a little bit higher price for, even if we sell fewer units? And how can I be a partner in that endeavor?”

For example, create QR codes that point to a specific website that gives the customer a lot of information about a particular new product. Maybe that’s cultural information. If it’s an herb or a vegetable, maybe the website includes how to use or prepare it, recipes or other ways the consumer might use it. A grower and a retailer could work together and provide extra information that would benefit the consumer, who buys it from the retailer, who gets it from the grower. That, to me, is an example of a way a grower and a retailer could work in partnership to garner the extra margin from something that is priced a little bit higher. I think the price increases should be looked at as a win-win.

GG: What other projects are in the works?

Behe: In another aspect of the 10% Project, we are going to start to do some psychographic research, trying to understand how some demographics, attitudes and behaviors impact consumer purchases. It is a little different from the pricing study, but it is another piece of the 10% Project.

GG: What do you hope to learn from the psychographic study?

Behe: It is a concern of the industry’s — and rightfully so — that many younger age cohorts are not the avid purchasers that we would like them to be. What we want to investigate are some of those barriers to buying ornamental and edible plants, not only to purchase, but barriers to enjoyment. We need more consumer research to understand how to connect with younger generations. We need to learn some of the ways that we could entice, particularly Gen Y, into embracing some of the products that our industry sells.

GG: Do you think there is something growers could learn from this study as well?

Behe: I really don’t see any of these studies as having a discreet or different benefit to growers or retailers. We just don’t have a lot of publicly available information that will benefit the growers and the retailers. There is a lot of great production information and research that gets funded and becomes publicly available, and people need to know how to manage pests and diseases. They need to understand fertility and water use, but I really see this 10% Project as contributing to the publicly available consumer research.

And my gosh, it is so badly needed by growers and by retailers. Wholesalers will benefit from this. Just about everybody in the supply chain who gets a better understanding of the consumer can work with other partners in the supply chain to their advantage. And that to me is the real benefit of the 10% Project to the industry.             

Leave a Reply

More From Greenhouse Grower's GROW...
Dickman-Farms-Carve-and-Brew-Event

March 26, 2018

How Dickman Farms Used a New Event to Expand Its Customer Base

Last fall, Dickman Farms hosted “Carve & Brew,” a new event in which young adults were able to carve a pumpkin, taste craft brews from two local microbreweries, and relax with friends and neighbors.

Read More
Mason-Day-GrowIt-Feature

March 22, 2018

Why Your Efforts to Sell Plants Fall Short and What You Can Do About It

It’s time to look at outside industries for ideas and inspiration on what we can do to operate more efficiently in today’s economy.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-Dinner

March 20, 2018

Seed Your Future Dinner Celebrates Focus on New, Young Industry Voices

During a Seed Your Future Leadership Meeting Fundraiser dinner at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania's Ag Secretary thanked the Seed Your Future initiative for its efforts to create awareness of horticulture and careers in horticulture.

Read More
Latest Stories
Dickman-Farms-Carve-and-Brew-Event

March 26, 2018

How Dickman Farms Used a New Event to Expand Its Custom…

Last fall, Dickman Farms hosted “Carve & Brew,” a new event in which young adults were able to carve a pumpkin, taste craft brews from two local microbreweries, and relax with friends and neighbors.

Read More
Mason-Day-GrowIt-Feature

March 22, 2018

Why Your Efforts to Sell Plants Fall Short and What You…

It’s time to look at outside industries for ideas and inspiration on what we can do to operate more efficiently in today’s economy.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-Dinner

March 20, 2018

Seed Your Future Dinner Celebrates Focus on New, Young …

During a Seed Your Future Leadership Meeting Fundraiser dinner at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania's Ag Secretary thanked the Seed Your Future initiative for its efforts to create awareness of horticulture and careers in horticulture.

Read More
Tom-Demaline-Willoway-Nurseries-feature

March 1, 2018

7 Ways You Can Control Your Business Destiny With Lawma…

As business owners and industry leaders, your job description should include being active and engaged in our political system.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

February 25, 2018

How Two Leading Greenhouse Growers Are Committed to Qua…

Greenhouse Grower recently asked its two most recent Head Grower Excellence in Quality award winners about the steps they take to improve plant quality. Here’s what they had to say.

Read More
employee-reviewing-shipping-list

February 21, 2018

Four Ways to Get Your Staff to Care About Quality

It can be a challenge to convince your employees to care as much as you do about your business and the quality of products you are providing. Here are four suggestions for making this happen.

Read More
Company-Culture-at-AgBiome

January 22, 2018

Four Ways to Attract Employees With a New Approach to C…

AgBiome is a participative, self-managed organization where no one has a boss. Instead, employees self-assemble as teams around organizational issues that need to be tackled, and internal experts help drive important decisions.

Read More
CareerUp

December 27, 2017

How CareerUp Helps Young Professionals Level-Up

The mission of CareerUp is to equip young professionals with the skills to maximize their career potential.

Read More
Nathan-Nordstedt-in-the-Greenhouse-feature

December 26, 2017

Richard T. Meister Scholarship Winner Encourages Indust…

This year’s scholarship winner says young people need experiences that challenge them and allow for creativity and innovation.

Read More
GROW

December 21, 2017

Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative: How You Made…

To create a competitive advantage, you must consistently experiment with and learn from new ideas. Greenhouse Grower’s GROW initiative provides you with cutting-edge ideas and actionable advice that results in greater profits in everyone’s pocket.

Read More

December 15, 2017

Your AFE Donations Will Be Matched Between Now and the …

Between now and December 1, any donations made to the American Floral Endowment will be matched up to $20,000.

Read More
HortScholars

December 8, 2017

HortScholars Program Now Accepting Applications for 201…

Do you know any college students currently in a horticulture-related program? This unique program gives them a chance to connect with industry leaders and make new connections at Cultivate.

Read More
GROW-Summit-2017-Group-Photo

December 5, 2017

GROW Summit 2017 Tackles Marketing and Business Managem…

This year’s think-tank style event brought together leaders from across the green industry to deliberate on topics such as disruptive marketing, cost accounting, and Millennials, to name a few.

Read More
Photo-with-Endless-Summer-Hydrangea

November 27, 2017

Why It’s Important to Get to Know Consumers at th…

One way to learn about consumer behavior is to get boots on the ground and engage with them.

Read More
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

November 1, 2017

Thanks to the 2018 GROW Sponsors

There are a number of industry organizations that help make Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative a success.

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