Monday, July 13, 2009

Grower Town Hall: Differentiate Or Die

Members of the media aren't allowed to quote anyone who attends the Grower Town Hall directly, but there were lots of interesting ideas flying around at Short Course on Sunday night. Here's some of the highlights on the session, which discussed the next steps of our industry's life cycle.

The panel featured ag economist Charlie Hall, Goldsmith's Faith Savage, Brian Minter of Minter Country Garden, consultant Laurie Scullin, Sid Raisch of Horticultural Advantage and Lisa Takao-McCall of Takao Nursery.
  • "We're mature, in more ways than one. In such cases, unless an industry redefines itself, it finds itself in its last stages."

  • ANLA is focusing on improving the perceived value of plants in two ways: Developing landscaping as a financial asset, something to invest in; and the ecosystems services value of plants, which is that trees that purify the air and plants that purify the water.

  • We need to make sure plants are relevent for the customer. They want to know what's in it for them. Tell customer that dollar for dollar, the investment they make in landscaping has a bigger ROI than any other investment they can make. Other types of home renovation investments are declining right now, actually. The opportunity is to work together to get the consumer to understand the benefit of gardening. How do we get that message out?

  • The common thinking is that if we lower the price on plants, we'll continue to sell as many units. Actually, the opposite is true. If we raise prices, we'll sell just as many plants, if not more. The number one way to increase the image of plants is to stop advertising based on discount.

  • How do we get the younger generation interested in plants? Young people trust celebrities more than any vendor. Young people have connected with cooking through the Food Network celebrities like Rachel Ray. This year, young people having their first connection to the political sphere have followed Michelle Obama's lead and started vegetable gardens.

  • How do we leverage new Internet and social networking technology? Jump in and get started. We are losing transactions because some people aren't getting our message in newspapers and on television. We need to communicate with people the way they want to hear our message.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I'm not sure that plants have ever been relevant to the demographics of today's X and Y generations. It's worth considering that the likelihood of one gardening as a hobby increases with age. It's probably safe to say that not many Boomers were gardening in their early twenties. Other predicators such as owning a home also increase interest in gardening. I would guess that homeownership is not at it's highest for those in their early twenties. As people get older, changes occur with many things including purchasing habits and preferences. Think about how your music, clothing, sporting and other hobby interests have changed with age. Our industry is not immune from this, nor should be. We should continue to aggressively focus on our target audience (Boomers) and have a watchful eye on changes or trends that may occur as the X and Y generations mature into the age range of the clientle that has interest in gardening.