We recently caught up with Jessie Atchison, brand manager for Burpee Home Gardens, who highlights Burpee’s new offerings for next spring.
GG: One new Burpee concept for 2011 is the Garden To Go. Tell us about the concept?
JA: When we launched Burpee Home Gardens for 2010, we stayed in small pots–pots as small as 3 inches and as large as 1 gallon. For 2011, we looked at how to expand sizes. We had growers asking about patio-ready tomatoes, and for a couple reasons.
First, if you have a higher-margin container, you really increase your ability to sell your product. Second, (Garden To Go) ties in really well with our mission of consumer success. It’s a bigger plant and probably has fruit on it that a consumer can pick to have an already-grown garden. The program puts consumers one step closer to success.
We know people are gardening in smaller spaces. This is one more way you can have a ready-to-go veggie garden, no matter what kind of space you have.
GG: Now that Burpee is in its second year, are growers looking for new varieties or simply additional ways to enhance their existing Burpee offerings?
JA: I think new varieties are part of the next step. I think having different-sized varieties is important, too.
We’ve added more than 30 varieties for next year. Some are just new to the program for next year; others are brand new. New varieties certainly get people interested, but we’re talking more now about how to enhance their [existing] offerings. There are now 150 varieties to choose from next year. So it’s more about choosing the right ones.
GG: How else is Burpee adding value to growers?
JA: We built the program to be a consumer-facing program. We want to know who our consumer is, what we can offer her, how we can help her achieve her goals and how we can be a part of her experience. So we’re going out and hosting consumer-facing events–it’s all driven by making sure we’re going to leverage the event back into product sales.
By building a community garden in Dallas, for example, we want consumer attention and press from the event. But we also want to tie the event back to who in that area has the product featured at the event. This year we had a plant giveaway in Chicago. That, too, was about getting awareness for the program. It’s nice to go out and get the face time with consumers.
It’s been a really exciting couple years Burpee. When we really started launching the program, we certainly expected big things of ourselves and of the market. To see all these things come together, it made for a pretty fun season. That said, there are things we can continue to do better.
GG: In addition to events, Burpee is also becoming very tech savvy. Tell us about the brand’s latest technology, the Burpee Garden Coach.
JA: We’re always talking about reaching out to younger, more tech-savvy gardeners. The Burpee Garden Coach is one way we can reach out. It will work on any smart phone, and it offers all sorts of care tips, recipes, weather forecasts–you name it.
You can sign up for Burpee Garden Coach via text message. Text your zip or postal code to 80998. You’ll get a text message back that says you can learn more about Burpee Garden Coach and a demo will begin. If people try it, they’ll get a taste of what the Burpee Garden Coach will do. We’ll officially launch it February 1, 2011.