California Spring Trials have come to represent many different things to many different people. Growers may be wowed by mounding habits, consistent peduncles and comparison trials, while others may be interested in new varieties, merchandising ideas and item selections.
Then there is me. As the director of marketing for Metrolina Greenhouses, what appeals to me? This year I took a different approach to years past; I stepped back, admired the extensive marketing efforts of the breeders and, ultimately, tried to represent our mutual customer. And this is what I found – breeders are getting really good at merchandising, packaging and telling their stories.
Merchandising, POP, And Vignettes
From practical to fun, displays were bigger and better than ever before. Several stops are worthy of calling out:
Syngenta set the stage for mums, drawing attention with hanging leaves, bold POP and a multi-seasonal story.
With the launch of HGTV, Dümmen was a merchandising hit, offering product-specific displays that touched on consumers’ style and emotions.
One of my favorite stops for merchandising inspiration was Ecke Ranch. They offered well-rounded displays that spoke to growers, retailers and customers.
Plants + Pots= The Whole Package. The world of container gardening is growing exponentially, and the packaging opportunities are endless. Every breeder offered ideas on the container side, and here are a few trends:
Vertical gardening is in. Every stop offered a version of wall planters or vertical gardens. I loved GroLink’s wall of mums, with each series of mums grouped together, and Sakata’s simple, free-standing display of coleus.
Embellishments are also big. Ball Horticultural did a fantastic job finishing pots with natural mosses and sticks, and I even noted, or should I say sniffed out, potpourri in a pot.
And finally, I would be remiss without mentioning Pacific Plug and Liner’s focus on containers this year; its color groupings and compositions were head-turning.
Clear Customer Expectations
My question walking in the door of many breeders’ trials was, “Why would a consumer want, need or have to have your product?”
Although I got a range of answers, the bottom line is this: A customer needs to know what they are buying, the name of the product, why they should buy it, the attributes and what to expect once they have purchased it.
If this can be explained in simple terms, there is a marked advantage, and odds are the product will be successful.
The best example of this was at Takii. While we were discussing Salvia ‘Summer Jewel Red’ and its ability to attract hummingbirds, a hummingbird flew right up to the plant. I wanted to take some home with me right then and there!
Spring Trials Takeaways
These trials aren’t just for growers anymore. The breeders are working hard to ensure there is something for everyone. Take a minute to look around and soak up the creative marketing and merchandising. Then, ask yourself, “Why would a customer buy this product?”