Wednesday, June 17, 2009

You can't hide. Consumers will find you.

Here's an interesting dilemma the Internet gives us. We've been getting a lot of comments on Today's Garden Center from consumers, and they want to know where to get the new varieties that we write about.

We all ultimately want gardeners to be happy and successful with the products we sell. So how do we close this loop? Gardeners have so much more information about plants because of the Internet and it must make it twice as frustrating to find what they want. So what can we do about this?

First off, all these different names for the same plant has to stop. It is so confusing for the gardener. Enough beating on that dead horse.

Second, how much lost opportunity is out there? We've had more than 1,000 views on a Greenhouse Grower page on Benary's ptilotus 'Joey' in the last month. And the comments have been from consumers asking where they can get 'Joey.' I think mail order plant sales could make a killing now that gardeners are tuning into the same information that you, growers and retailers, are reading.

Finally, if you have information on a popular variety, put it online. The more information, the better. If a consumer can get a variety from you, tell them. Breeders, tell consumers where they can get your varieties. Fernlea Flowers's Fernlea Garden Club lets me know when its varieties are available near me.


John said...

Something that we did (inadvertently) on our site was post our product availability lists on our wholesale page. Many consumers have used this information to see what we have (despite the fact that we have a disclaimer on the page stating that it is just for wholesale).
I also agree that there needs to be a solution to the "name game". Heck, I work for a greenhouse and the names still confuses me!

Jim Monroe said...

We have the same issue on the Hort Couture site. Lots of consumer hits and the frustration that they cannot find the product. Maybe our industry needs better online resources for new products. Garden Crossing, Plant Delights, Park Seed etc do a great job but it is still such a big ocean on the internet. Maybe we need a search engine of online garden retailers and/or garden centers for floriculture crops. Our industry does not have a lot of really great sources of information for the consumer. That is something we must do in the future is better connect to the end consumer!

Rick Brown said...

Jim, I like how you use names and series names to differentiate your product lines and make your lines exclusive, alluring and desired. I like your Flip Catalog. (Where is my local retailer and can I get all of those plants today?) So many growers, breeders, marketing companies and retailers are doing similar things with new and existing lines and varieties that it will be impossible to solve this identity crisis. With Google analytics I can see how many hits come to me from Google Images and now Bing Images references. When you search images you see how many different names each coleus has. You see the world view and you realize that James, Jimmy, Jimbo, Jim can all refer to the same image or to none of the above. Daves Garden is decent as a community supported database that gets names and ametuer images associated and is one of the largest and oldest but is still relatively unknown. Sourcing plants has to be the most frustrating and confusing thing for garden consumers. Another issue is the regional performance of plants. Budleia for example is the most popular butterfly plant and marketed as such by everyone yet in Florida it dies quickly with rust disease, mites and nematodes. There are none in central and south Florida landscapes! I can take you to Florida retailers that gladly take the money from consumers that have to have the best butterfly plant known to man. You can buy them online and they are Proven Winners. I guess plant sourcing is somewhat like grocery shopping. Some seek out and find escargot and some are happy with beanie wenie from the 7-11.

Steve said...

Fragmentation is the problem.
Aggregation is the solution.

To solve the local search issue in this industry, 'plants + product + location' data needs to be pulled together from multiple sources to create one database, then syndicate the data appropriately.

Obviously the retailers need it.
Publishers (TVweb, Radioweb, Magazineweb, Newspaperweb, Otherweb) need it too. Often the manufacturer's 'store locator' needs the data.

Might sound like a far off goal, but it's not. All the parts are in place now to make it happen.
The industry needs to seize the opportunity and 'Just Do It'.


Steve Cissel, CEO