Connecting With Consumers

Growers don’t have the direct line of communication with consumers that retailers do. Between spring preparations, last-minute orders to fill and the runaround Mother’s Day and Memorial Day cause, it’s tough to take a good look at how the marketplace is taking shape.

Growers are aware of the products they grow that are and aren’t selling, but time isn’t necessarily ample for them to dissect consumer purchasing decisions and begin making plans for next year.

Fortunately, we did some dissecting for you this spring. In mid-April, we created a short survey and sent it to family and friends to get their takes on their consumer experience and gardening. Nearly 100 people took the survey, and the majority of respondents (90 percent) are under the age of 45. Forty percent of respondents are under age 30, so we received good feedback from the consumers who will shape the marketplace over the next 30 years.

Assuming my family and friends were strapped for time, I didn’t expect the most thorough and enthusiastic responses. Many of them are just out of college and at the start of a career, so I was surprised to read multiple responses that exuded intelligence, thoughtfulness and interest in our industry.

A Little Help, Please!

Some of the most interesting comments respondents made were actually calls for help. Consumer respondents even offered suggestions retailers should consider to reel them into stores. Growers should heed their suggestions, too, because everybody in the supply chain is responsible to the consumer.

One respondent wrote: “Independent garden centers should host free workshops on Saturdays, where they could teach potential gardeners how to start their own herb and vegetable garden. The grocery store would be another good place to get people interested.”

Retailers bear a bulk of the responsibility for consumer interest, but growers should also play a role in attracting new consumers and keeping old consumers interested. Vegetables and herbs, for example were clearly hot this spring, but we shouldn’t assume they’ll generate the same interest in 2010.

To ensure consumers return, growers should work with retailers–or explore options on their own–to develop educational programs or workshops that help consumers succeed in the garden. If 2009 becomes the year consumers took an interest in herbs and vegetables, take the next step with them in 2010 to make herbs and vegetables a greenhouse mainstay for years to come.

If you’re a wholesale grower, offer consumers a chance to tour and talk edibles or ornamentals at your facility. They’re bound to be awestruck by the magnitude of your production, and they’ll be inspired to try new things at home. A great example is Burpee’s Root Camp, a fun, basic training workshop designed to resemble boot camp that gives consumers a chance to ask questions and have fun in the garden.

Another solution is branding (see “You Say Tomato” on page 52). Don’t just sell an edible or ornamental, market a lifestyle or create a promotional campaign that offers consumers all the information needed to succeed. Create tags and point-of-purchase materials to hook consumers, and invest in a website.

Whatever you do, go local. Our survey respondents are asking for it.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Green Fuse Lupine Staircase Pink

September 24, 2017

How to Effectively Grow Staircase Lupine

The Staircase Lupine series, part of Green Fuse Botanicals’ First Light Perennials collection, has the potential to put on a great display with solid and bicolor hues.

Read More
Terra Nova 2018 Catalog

September 23, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries’ Latest Plant Catalog is Now Available

The new 2017-2018 plant catalog, which features hundreds of varieties, series, and collections from Terra Nova Nurseries, pays homage to the company’s 25th anniversary.

Read More
Armitage GWA Buffalo Tour 5

September 21, 2017

Tour of Buffalo Gardens Reveals Hidden Gems And Community Pride

This past August, Allan Armitage joined the Association for Garden Communicators on a tour of Buffalo. It was a reminder that that we can make a difference in neighborhoods, in cities, and in people’s lives.

Read More
Latest Stories
Green Fuse Lupine Staircase Pink

September 24, 2017

How to Effectively Grow Staircase Lupine

The Staircase Lupine series, part of Green Fuse Botanicals’ First Light Perennials collection, has the potential to put on a great display with solid and bicolor hues.

Read More
Terra Nova 2018 Catalog

September 23, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries’ Latest Plant Catalog is Now Avail…

The new 2017-2018 plant catalog, which features hundreds of varieties, series, and collections from Terra Nova Nurseries, pays homage to the company’s 25th anniversary.

Read More
Armitage GWA Buffalo Tour 5

September 21, 2017

Tour of Buffalo Gardens Reveals Hidden Gems And Communi…

This past August, Allan Armitage joined the Association for Garden Communicators on a tour of Buffalo. It was a reminder that that we can make a difference in neighborhoods, in cities, and in people’s lives.

Read More
Suntory Grandessa argyranthemum - feature

September 18, 2017

Breeders Open Availability for Unrooted Cuttings; Here&…

With new avenues for buying young plants for vegetative production, growers should have an easier time finding availability and receiving shipments of unrooted cuttings for the coming seasons.

Read More
Ball, Tagawa Succulents Partnership

September 14, 2017

Ball Seed to Partner With Tagawa Greenhouses on New Suc…

The new program includes in-demand retail products that are popular with younger shoppers, allowing growers to easily build a comprehensive succulent program and stay on-trend in the marketplace.

Read More
Strait-Laced Elderberry

September 10, 2017

Check Out the Top Varieties On Display at Farwest 2017

A panel of plant experts, along with show attendees, selected their favorite offerings during the Farwest 2017 New Varieties Showcase.

Read More

September 5, 2017

Hort Couture Announces New Propagation and Broker Partn…

The new grower-propagator partners are deeply vested in the independent garden center channel with propagation expertise, as well as finished production focused on the independent grower.

Read More
Helianthus Sunfinity (Syngenta Flowers)

September 3, 2017

Growing Tips for Helianthus Sunflower ‘Sunfinity…

This annual sunflower is a profuse bloomer with strong branching that produces multiple flowers per plant from spring to fall.

Read More
Ball Seed Field Day 2017

September 2, 2017

Highlights from Ball Seed’s Annual Field Day and Landsc…

Attendees of the one-day event had the opportunity to see new plants in up-close-and-personal trials, and engage with speakers and product experts.

Read More
Bidens Popstar (Kientzler)

August 31, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why I’ve Become a Fan of Bidens

The rather boring plant with mundane daisy-yellow flowers has morphed into a vigorous plant carrying colorful flowers that seems to be comfortable in most of the country.

Read More

August 29, 2017

27 New Impatiens for Spring Color in 2018

Gardeners love impatiens because they are one of the few plants that offer stand-out, splashy blooms for shady areas, and in some cases full sun. There's no shortage of new introductions this year to choose from for your 2018 product mix. Here are 27 new and improved varieties to consider offering to your customers.  

Read More
Calandiva kalanchoes (Dümmen Orange) Feature

August 28, 2017

Lifestyle Plants Are in Full Bloom for Consumers

The latest decorating trends indicate consumers want hassle-free, colorful plants with big flowers — and growers are finding unique ways to cash in on these luxury-item sales.

Read More
Cuphea Fairy Dust Pink (Proven Winners) feature

August 26, 2017

Kelly Norris: Noteworthy Plants That Caught My Attentio…

Imagine the modern consumer getting so excited about a new plant that they shared the experience with a friend, perhaps not even a fellow gardening consumer.

Read More

August 20, 2017

Proven Winners and Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Assoc…

This year, KNLA is combining its summer outing with the Proven Winners Landscape Roadshow for an informative event that will take place on September 21.

Read More
Four Star 2018 Catalog

August 18, 2017

Four Star Greenhouses’ 2018 Catalog Includes New Variet…

The new catalog is available in both print and digital formats, and features information on new trays that allow for more plugs per square foot.

Read More
Francis Kwong, PanAmerican Seed

August 15, 2017

Ornamental Seed Scientist Francis Kwong Dies at Age 65

Kwong was most recently the Director of Seed Technology for PanAmerican Seed, and his research was instrumental in the development of calibrachoa, angelonia, and other plants.

Read More
Candy Tops Snapdragons Series (Sakata Ornamentals)

August 3, 2017

Five Characteristics Breeders Want in Top-Performing Sp…

New spring annuals have to provide something for everyone — longevity, durability, performance, and more — if they want to meet breeders’ high standards for market-worthy plants.

Read More
Petunia 'Headliner Pink Sky" (Selecta)

August 3, 2017

Why Eccentricity is the New Black in Spring Annuals

Consumers judge plants by appearance, color impact, and ease of maintenance, which is why retailers want new spring annuals that are novel standouts.    

Read More