Why It’s Important to Get to Know Consumers at the Ground Level
One of the best ways to learn about consumer behavior is to get boots on the ground and engage with them. This year, I got to do just that with the Endless Summer Hydrangeas #LifeInFullBloom road tour: eight cities in nine days, community outreach events, multiple media appearances, and more than 1,700 miles in a 15-passenger Endless Summer van. What ensued was nothing short of educational, fun, and the first of many road trips around the country.
Without going into too many details — you can find time-lapse videos of the tour on the Endless Summer Facebook page. Here are three key takeaways from our nine days on the road.
Beer + Hydrangeas = Match Made in Heaven
One of our partner events for the tour was the Lincoln Park Craft Brews at the Zoo, an event with more than 100 participating breweries, plus an Endless Summer hydrangea wall. You might think it’s odd to have a beer event at a zoo with hydrangeas, but surprisingly people were familiar with hydrangeas and got excited about them. And these people were not gardeners; they were everyone we want to hear our message: 25- to 45-year-olds who can afford $50 to drink sample-size beer for a few hours. Over and over we heard things like: “Hydrangeas are my favorite flower,” “OMG hydrangeas!” “I have Endless Summer in my yard.” These people engaged with us, even with the distraction of beer. They wanted photos in front of the hydrangea wall, asked questions about how to keep them alive in their yard, and were excited that we were there.
Millennials Want to Garden
It’s true. But maybe don’t tell them that they’re “gardening” (it’s a scary word to newbies). And it’s not just Millennials. It’s people of any age who are new to gardening. Whether it was our beer-drinking friends in Chicago, stage managers at television stations, or colleagues in our industry, we repeatedly heard what we inherently knew: green is gold. Trends like edibles, succulents, or Pinterest-inspired décor are the gateway to developing interest and appreciation for the green industry as a whole. If we acknowledge that not everyone is going to develop a deep passion for gardening as we all know it, at least we can capture their interest enough to have an appreciation for plants that hopefully progresses into a life-long hobby. Keep the communication simple, fun, and engaging. The more they enjoy the learning process, the more they will try.
Giving Back is Amazing
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of growing and selling plants. We move from one season to another, each with its own challenges, and all too often, we forget to step back and enjoy what we produce. Along the #LifeInFullBloom tour, we had the opportunity to meet with and donate to public gardens, non-profits, and other organizations and hear about the impact of plants on their communities. We helped give a facelift to Habitat for Humanity neighborhoods in Kansas City, raised awareness for plant-surplus programs with the Benson Plant Rescue in Omaha, and donated plants for displays at multiple public gardens. Of everything on the tour, these experiences will stick with me always. If I can leave you with anything, it is to take a step back and share. Encourage and allow your employees to do the same. Embrace the impact that our work and products can have on your community.
I’m looking forward to hitting the road again next year. With every stop, I learn more about our customers, the end consumer, and how we all continue to beautify the world around us.