I see one main issue facing our industry in getting more people to buy plants — we assume that the way we used to sell plants is the way millennials will want to buy them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We sell plants in small packs that you plant in a hole in your garden, with a generic label that says “blooms all season.” Millennials don’t have gardens, so they want a plant they can put on their fourth floor apartment balcony, or better yet on a shelf in their living room near a window. We give them too little information to help them be successful under those circumstances. But what we don’t realize is that if the plant dies, they feel personally responsible for killing another living thing which is so painful that they would prefer not to take the chance a second time. If we sold larger plants and gave easy to understand instructions that can be photographed, we all would probably have much better luck.
Also, as an industry, we don’t make plants sexy. We talk about botanical names, and strange numbers and chemical symbols in fertilizer and complicated ways to amend the soil.
We don’t talk about having fun with plants, and the joy you and your kids will have growing something from seed. Millennials want experiences!!
They want to name their plant, plant it in a fun DIY container and take a selfie with it that they can share on Instagram. They want to use it in cooking and crafts and know it’s “back story” so they can post it on Pintrest.
Millennials love DIY projects but are only willing to invest up to a half hour. Then the project must be done and ready to post. Remember those packs we had in the garden center? They probably would have sold better if we had a simple DIY container kit next to it.
We assume that container plants or even mixed containers have to have flowers. Many millennials like green plants. They appreciate the interesting textures and forms of foliage plants. Forget those ugly, black, one-gallon pots. We shouldn’t be afraid to plant some ornamental grasses or succulents in a nice, high-end pot.
Don’t assume that schools are teaching kids about plants and that someday they will just appear at your garden center eager to buy something. There are a lot of exciting new technologies stealing kids’ attention these days. If you want them to come, you need to entice them with activities. Remember, where kids go, their parents (and their wallets) follow.
This is exactly why we created the Do It BIG magazine (and have one for pansies in the works). See attached. It gives hands-on, fun activities to get people interacting with their plants. We hope it helps retailers relate to their customers as well.
Calhoun is North American Marketing Specialist for Benary.