Connecting With Consumers

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Connecting With Consumers

Green is a new color in the Color Wise endcap program. Papyruses ‘King Tut’ and ‘Little Tut’ joined Proven Winners as a new green addition in Graceful Grasses.
Since this sign was printed, Proven Winners’ consumer eNewsletter circulation jumped to more than 134,000 gardeners a month.
Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’ was the hit of the trials. Just don’t call it alyssum.
The vast majority of consumers plan to continue buying plants this year at the same or greater levels than last year.
‘Pretty Much Picasso’ is a new designer petunia that is vigorous for landscapes.
Retailers can order this new seminar kit in a box to host consumer gardening events.

Although the plants are always a big “Wow” during Proven Winners’ trials at EuroAmerican Propagators in Bonsall, this year, the most impressive part was numbers – proof that the brand is making an impact with consumers. The free Gardener Idea Book Proven Winners publishes each year for consumers has turned out to be the most effective tool for communicating with them on a regular basis.

Consumers request the booklet after seeing ads in prominent national magazines. Seventy ads were placed in 60 magazines reaching 120 million readers. This spring, there was a 166 percent increase in requests for the idea book compared to this time a year ago, with the readers of Martha Stewart Living being especially responsive. About half had never heard of Proven Winners before, which means the ad is reaching new customers.
After consumers get the book, Proven Winners stays connected with them through its monthly eNewsletter, which just went out to more than 134,000 people, about 7,000 more than expected.

This base of consumers has been a valuable resource for gathering market intelligence in significant numbers. For instance, 19,738 responded to a survey about their intentions to buy plants this spring. Only 8 percent planned to buy less, with 51 percent planning to buy the same and 41 percent planning to buy more. This is pretty encouraging, considering the state of the economy. In-person events are going well, too. Proven Winners recent Outdoor Living Extravaganza in Chicago was completely sold out, with 350 people paying to attend.

On the retailer side, Proven Winners has relaunched its certified garden center program as iGarden Certification. In addition to educating garden center employees about Proven Winners’ products, there will be a series of general gardening knowledge modules addressing the most common consumer problems: watering, fertilizing, soils. Proven Winners staff answers more than 3,500 questions to consumers each year and is working on more ways to address common problems.

Also new for retailers is the Bloom Box – all a retailer needs to host a container gardening event at retail. The seminar in a box includes a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, two T-shirts, and invitation post cards.

Delilah Onofrey directs Flower Power Marketing for the Suntory Collection. She can be reached at

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