Positive Consumer Experiences Help Advance The Orchid Category At Green Circle Growers

Slideshow: Green Circle Growers
Green Circle Growers’ takes the fear out of orchid growing for consumers, saying that watering orchids is as simple as adding three ice cubes per week.

HGTV HOME Plant Collection recently announced its intention to expand its Fresh Style product line through a partnership with Green Circle Growers (Oberlin, Ohio). Ranked No. 9 on Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 Grower list, Green Circle will supply HGTV HOME Plant Collection with decorative orchids, tropical plants, and indoor garden combinations beginning in Spring 2016.

“Through our partnership with Agricola and HGTV HOME, we are excited to be bringing these branded, easy-care home décor items to an even broader market of gardening enthusiasts,” says Maxwell Sherer, Director of Sales and Marketing for Indoor Products at Green Circle Growers.

Greenhouse Grower had the opportunity to ask Sherer about his company’s orchid program, the latest trends he’s seeing, and where he thinks orchid growing is headed in the future.

GG: Tell us about Green Circle Growers’ orchid program and what you specialize in.

Maxwell Sherer: Our orchid program is focused on Phalaenopsis orchids, offered to fit every moment and every space. We offer our orchids under our Just Add Ice products brand along with our other branded Just Add Ice items, including: Anthurium, Bonsai, Money Tree, and our easy-care Bromeliads. We specialize in making the consumer and the retailer successful, resulting in remarkable experiences that people are excited to share with one another.

GG: What are the newest trends with orchids that you are seeing?

Sherer: As more business migrates from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce, we are seeing an increase in e-commerce gift-giving that is translating very well to orchids. The orchid’s strength, combined with advanced packaging technology, helps it endure the arduous shipping experience and makes it an excellent gift for the recipient.

GG: What orchids are popular with consumers right now, and how are they using them?

Sherer: The most popular orchid is the Phalaenopsis. This is a fairly predictable answer given its presence in the marketplace, but what consumers are doing with them is also very noteworthy: People are customizing their ownership experience with orchids more than ever. There are almost limitless sources of images available online and offline to inspire today’s consumer to imagine their ideal lifestyle. And the more inspired consumers are to include a premium plant into their envisioned lifestyle, the more likely they are to seek out an orchid, anthurium, or other premium tropical to customize to their desired, personalized décor preference.

GG: Any new varieties or tried-and-true varieties of orchids that you are excited about? Why will consumers like them?

Sherer: The value of a Phalaenopsis to all parties of the supply chain, including the breeder, grower, shipper, retailer, and consumer, has solidified its place as the ultimate tried-and-true variety of orchid. We’re excited about how higher levels of design are elevating the Phalaenopsis’ relevance to all consumers. With the creation of branded Triple-Crown triple-spike orchids, waterfall orchids with large and cascading blooms, new colors for dying orchids, well-crafted dish gardens and multi-orchid planters, and novelty sizes like the mini orchid, it’s clear that the Phalaenopsis variety has lots of ongoing excitement that consumers are definitely enjoying.

GG: Do you feel that accessible pricing of orchids and other tropicals to make them more available to consumers has helped advance this category? If so, in what ways?

Sherer: Yes, of course. While demand for disposable income is high, value for those dollars is very important, too. With the combination of accessible price points and outstanding value, the accessible pricing of orchids, anthuriums, bromeliads, money trees, bonsai, and other tropicals has led to expanded first-time and repeat purchases. But this has a perpetual effect as well: an expanded category begins to attract innovation dollars to advance genetics, automation, design, and marketing. Improvements in these areas lead to an ever-improving consumer experience that helps continue category growth far into the future.

GG: What do you feel would help advance the orchid category even further?

Sherer: More consumer experience with orchids would help. Despite significant category growth, orchids have still been experienced by a relative few. We aim to change that. Over and over, our consumer research shows high enjoyment and satisfaction with the ownership experience. People like to talk about their experience with our orchids, so bringing that positive experience to more people will lead to even further category growth.

GG: What are some niche areas in the orchid category that growers might want to explore?

Sherer: The market is probably underweight in varieties outside of Phalaenopsis. Finding the right combination of excellent quality, predictable availability, easy care, and accessible price points for other varieties might be an area to explore.

GG: What marketing strategies work well for selling orchids? How has marketing of these plants changed over the years?

Sherer: Start with gift giving. Our research shows that 50% of orchid owners are already giving them as gift items to friends and family, and it should be even more. People are often apprehensive to buy a plant because they fear being unable to maintain it, but they feel good giving a plant. It’s paradoxical. But encouraging orchids as gifts removes the fear-of-care barrier for the giver and lets the receiver have an ownership experience with low risk. Research confirms that the experience ends up being positive, making it possible to convert the receiver into a future giver or repeat owner.

GG: What has your company done to take away the consumer’s fear of growing orchids?

Sherer: We message that growing an orchid is something that we should do, and owning an orchid is what consumers should do. It’s tricky to get an orchid to flower, so leave that to us. But holding its flowers is easy: three ice cubes per week. That’s all. Who can’t do that? And if the consumer wants some more help or is interested in re-blooming, we’ve got plenty of support: text message or email, watering reminders, desktop calendars, informative blog posts, instructive YouTube videos, a network of 60,000 passionate Facebook fans, an inspiring Pinterest board, and more.

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