New & Improved: Old-Fashioned Buzzwords Still Motivate Consumers

New & Improved: Old-Fashioned Buzzwords Still Motivate Consumers

New verbena for 2017 from Selecta FEATURE

New verbena for 2017 from Selecta

Connecting with today’s time-starved consumer can be challenging. More things are competing for people’s time, attention and income than ever before. How can you break through all of these distractions to drive sales in your store?


The answer may be surprising. It’s simple, it doesn’t cost much in time or money, and the results can contribute significantly to your bottom line. It’s two little words: “new” and “improved.”

In a recent Greenhouse Grower column, Dr. Allan Armitage wrote, “’New’ is our lifeline. We had better understand that newness is the horse under our saddle. If it stops moving, so do we.”

The idea may seem old-fashioned, but we shouldn’t turn our backs on the power of the words “new” and “improved” in our selling strategies. Even in today’s market, the consumer has a love affair with these important words. Look at Apple, and the platform they’ve built with each next-generation model of the iPhone: Each public launch seems to exceed expectations. The public craves the latest and greatest!

Here are four questions to consider as you look for ways to make “new” work for you:

Are you actively seeking out what’s new?

From plants to products, something new or improved is hitting the lawn-and-garden market every season. Plant breeders introduce hundreds of new varieties each year. Manufacturers bring new items and upgraded designs to market, to make the gardening experience easier, more efficient or more enjoyable.

When reviewing your product mix each season, take the time to consider some of these new plants and products. Today’s introduction could become tomorrow’s top seller!

How are you promoting the “next big thing” to your customers?

In-store signage is one of the most important tools in your promotional arsenal. Marketing experts have said that simple, new signage on a product can not only raise awareness for consumers, but provoke unplanned purchases at a higher margin, too!

In my travels over many years, I’ve seen the difference in sales between a patio set with a dangled price tag versus one with a placard sign introducing the set as new, describing benefits and offering some type of incentive or call to action. Good signage and retail communication skills are critical to driving interest and, ultimately, sales.

Are you taking advantage of the mobile-friendly tools available to you?

According to Nielsen’s Digital Consumer Report for 2014, retail locators are used by 75 percent of smartphone users. If you sell a product from a vendor who has an online dealer locator, make every effort to ensure your business is listed there. It’s free advertising!

Does your team have the gift of gab?

After seeing the California Spring Trials, I wondered how retailers would convey the benefits of new cultivars and how they perform in different regions. The stores who excel at promoting their new varieties utilize signage and other tools, sure, but they also engage their customers with good conversation! The most successful teams collaborated in planning, communicating and executing at the point of decision with regard to what was new in their store. The messages went far beyond the signage — and the price! These teams were promoting the “brand” which, in reality, is the store itself. This is where and how repeat customers are made.

As you head into the next selling season, take some time to review your purchases and consider what’s new in your offering. By utilizing the tools and tactics outlined here, you can show some love to both those products and your customers! You’ll be rewarded with a loyal customer who keeps coming back in search of what’s new. You may also be surprised to see that deep discounts weren’t necessary to seal the deal. Good selling!

John Johnston is Retail Education Manager at Griffin. He can be reached at [email protected].