After losing Walmart as a client and confronting customers’ new expectations, Rockwell Farms chose to adapt. In this interview, Jason Roseman, the company’s director of sales, looks back at some of the marketing developments he’s seen Rockwell Farms and other growers undergo over the last few years.
GG: How do your supermarket customers’ needs differ from those of Walmart, Lowe’s and the other home improvement chains’?
JR: The supermarket’s customers are different than the box stores’ or home improvement stores’. Customers at the box store have planned out that they want to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and buy the plants they want to plant, whereas at the supermarket level, customers are making much more of an impulse purchase. So we have to find ways to enhance the consumer experience when Mom’s got both kids on each side of her. We have to get her to pick up that hanging basket or mixed planter and take it home.
Every grower tries to be unique and different. It sounds cliché but it goes back to the classic four Ps of marketing: price, promotion, place and product. We may try a really good promotional price on an item to attract the customer. Or maybe we use a bright pink pot to really pull attention to the display. We’ll use point of sale materials to grab the eye of that consumer as they’re walking in and out of the store.
GG: In your experience, how has the sales and marketing manager job description evolved since you took the position six years ago?
JR: Up until June 2008, one of our largest customers was Walmart. They made the decision at that point to phase us out. After that occurred, we had to refocus our model a little bit. We put more focus on contract growing but also on our existing supermarket customers.
Over time, the [customer’s] expectations have gotten bigger. They’ve gone from buyers expecting a quality product to buyers wanting you to be on the
cutting edge with variety and container selection and building custom programs to help them achieve whatever vision they have for their stores. That’s become more apparent in the last few years. You have to make sure you’re delivering the right product at the right time to the right place.
GG: How are growers faring as marketers today versus when you first joined Rockwell Farms?
JR: I feel like now you see a lot more with bright tags, signage and 2D codes.
Growers are driving customers to a website now for more information. One of the reasons consumers don’t buy is because they’re scared. What if I buy this and I kill it – they’re afraid of that. So if we can put their concerns at ease, it only helps the whole industry.
Social media is putting some of those concerns to rest. Now you can contact the grower or whoever is at the greenhouse, and they can help you with your issue. I think that helps consumers.