We need to work harder together, as an industry, to inspire and instruct consumers to use our products.
This statement is undoubtedly not news to you, and it certainly isn’t to me, either. However, the disconnect between the top of the supply chain to the end consumer did became abundantly clear to me while attending this year’s California Spring Trials (CAST). At every stop, the plants were perfect, the displays were breathtaking and the ideas and uses for plants were brilliant. But somehow, a lot of this gets lost in translation and we hardly ever see the same attention to detail that we see at Spring Trials make its way to retail. As a consumer myself, it’s almost devastating that this beauty is reserved for people within the industry to see. We, my friends, are preaching to the choir.
Imagine what would happen if consumers walked in to trials at Benary or Ball Horticultural Co. or Dümmen Orange or Proven Winners or Pacific Plug & Liner, and saw the kind of displays that we are privy to at Spring Trials. Imagine if they saw the gorgeous plant quality, grown to perfection in an ideal climate, and were met with the depth of knowledge about plants, delivered with the excitement and passion that breeder representatives provide to us. Their heads would explode!
Breeders invest years of time and treasure to develop new plant genetics, and then even more in growing plants and making their CAST displays look perfect for brokers, growers and retailers. This is great, and I’m sure it inspires creativity for those who attend CAST. But then they get home, overwhelmed and road-weary, and have to switch gears immediately to spring production and shipping mode. Who has enough time to fully process and break down what they saw, analyze it and put plans into action for the following spring?
An industry friend recently told me that from a brand perspective, the retailers who use point-of-purchase materials and invest in display merchandising are 100 percent successful with branding; however, the retailers who place branded pots on a bench and call it branding are not.
That’s not to say that all retailers are doing it wrong. Many have got it down pat, and the growers who help them with merchandising are helping with this in a big way. But breeders and growers still need to do a better job teaching retailers how to sell plants. And retailers can still improve their communication with consumers, to help them realize what they want, and inspire them with ideas of how to do it.
What if breeders invested some of that money from trials into developing merchandisable retail vignettes? What if growers increased their efforts to educate retailers about plants and how to use and care for them? What if retailers used the knowledge they gained from growers to teach consumers what plants work well together, and how they can incorporate indoor and outdoor design? What if we all shared the information we’ve gathered in each of these pursuits, and use it to work together to inspire and educate consumers?
There’s always room for improvement, and the place to start is with inspiration. Luckily, we already have plenty of that — we just need to use it more effectively. Learning how to work together will help everyone’s cause, and ultimately grow the industry.