The floriculture market has matured, and there are no new sales out there to be had. Growers who expand their operations are simply taking market share from each other.
I read this a few weeks ago from grower, and his response to this situation is to focus on current customers and not worry about finding new ones. I can understand this point of view; you should take care of current customers fully, and work at what works. But something about these comments didn't sit right with me.
Then at Short Course last week, I heard Stan Pohmer speak, painting the same picture of the industry, but said that this mentality is a self-fulfilling prophesy, and is exactly why the market has slowed down.
Maybe you're happy with the size of your business and your revenue, but you can't keep all your customers forever. You'll have to replace that business somehow. And if you want to grow and be more successful than you are now, you need to find ways to fight, don't you?
This industry has matured -- does that assume that there's only one way to go now? Is the industry just going to decline without a fight? Most of the houses in my neighborhood aren't landscaped with color at all. Isn't there room to expand the market there?
Reaching the consumer can't only be the responsibility of the retailer, I believe. What about partnering with your retailers for in-store education? Or better, what about going out into your community? Earlier this summer, a group of California growers opened their doors to the public. Even a non-gardener would be amazed at what they'd find behind the walls of a greenhouse during the height of production.
It's easier than ever for a grower to reach through directly to the consumer. I love what Ball and Proven Winners are doing with the free tools of social media. Check out the Wave and Proven Winners Facebook pages when you have a minute.
And if you think only the big brands can reach people through social, check out Rocket Farms' Facebook following. The more demand there is out there for plants at the consumer level, the more market there will be for growers.
Have you seen what Bob's Market is doing with smart tags? Other growers/retailers are testing them out, including Hort Couture, and more are thinking about it.
Please don't stop thinking about ways you can help create new gardeners!