Burpee Is Reborn: Marketer Of The Year Award Winner

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Burpee Is Reborn: Marketer Of The Year Award Winner

For more than a century, gardeners have been purchasing flower and vegetable seeds from the Burpee catalog. With the kind of brand equity and recognition marketers dream of, it just made sense to create a line of branded plants under the Burpee name starting with herbs and vegetables.

Founded in 1876 by W. Atlee Burpee, Burpee is still a family seed company in the Philadelphia area but now owned and operated by George Ball Jr. With Ball Horticultural Co.’s vertical leadership position on the plant production and marketing side, it made sense for Ball to take the lead in rolling out the Burpee Home Gardens line to growers and retailers.

From the beginning, the goal has been to inspire confidence and help gardeners succeed by offering the best-performing varieties and providing information, ideas and inspiration to take the guesswork out of home gardening. The program rolled out at the 2009 California Spring Trials with growers in Dallas and Baltimore testing the program at retail that season. The consumer-facing website, BurpeeHomeGardens.com went live with extensive plant information, gardening tips, recipes and resources for home gardeners.

Burpee Home Gardens also is engaging the public directly, whether it’s handing out free plants to the public in downtown Chicago, hosting vegetable garden giveaway contests, planting community gardens with children or sponsoring the Earth Day celebration at New York Botanical Gardens and the “Growing A Greener World” public television show.

Nurturing The Next Generation

In April 2010, Burpee launched I Can Grow, a national campaign to support interest in vegetable gardening among young and novice gardeners. One component is installing school and community gardens across the nation. Five winning schools were chosen for garden installations as recipients of the I Can Grow Youth Garden Award. Interest was strong with more than 220 applications from schools and communities.

I Can Grow focuses on four key areas of vegetable gardening: education, eating better, environment and economy. This reflects a growing interest in fresher, more nutritious food and supports community needs, environmental responsibility, saving money and finding personal satisfaction through home gardening.

In addition to the resources available at BurpeeHomeGardens.com, Ball has published a 55-page “I Can Grow Guide” with the National Gardening Association, offering ideas for teachers, youth group leaders and volunteers on how to cultivate a successful youth garden program. Another resource, “Garden Fresh,” is a 32-page consumer guide with easy-to-follow instructions on how to start, maintain and build a home vegetable garden.

Tapping into technology, the Burpee Garden Coach, which debuted this year, is a mobile Web tool that gives home gardeners access to season-long success on their cell phone. Through text- and web-based interaction, the Burpee Garden Coach supports gardeners and inspires confidence throughout the life cycle of their vegetable plants–choosing, growing, maintaining, harvesting and eating. In addition to the timely tips, resources include the plant database, the ability to create a garden journal, a retail locator, weather forecasts and recipes. Microsoft Tags encourage connectivity.

Next year, the Burpee Home Gardens will extend to a flower program with a mix of exclusive and tried-and-true varieties. Another new program is Burpee BOOST, a collection of six nutritious varieties selected for higher levels of antioxidants than other home garden vegetable plants.

This is the first time Greenhouse Grower has presented its Marketer of the Year award to a vegetable program and we are pleased to see Ball and Burpee break new ground with Burpee Home Gardens. What a wonderful way to make an old-fashioned brand modern and relevant to all generations.

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

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