Two not-so-well-known, but insightful economic principles can be summarized as follows: (1) expenditures rise to meet income (C. Northcote Parkinson) and (2) people afford what they want (Lowell Catlett). The green industry’s job (growers, service providers, and retailers alike) is to make sure they are providing #2 in such a way that they capture their fair share of #1. Stated slightly differently, if the green industry can position itself in such a way that its products/services are considered as necessities in people’s lives and not mere luxuries, that is the best recession-proofing and weather-proofing it can do.
Let’s examine this a bit further. The value proposition for the green industry in the future must focus on the unique ways in which quality of life is improved for its customer base. Much research has validated the emotional and environmental benefits of flowers, plants, and trees. In a nutshell, green industry products and services improve emotional health, boost seniors’ well being, enhance hospital recovery rates, enhance employee innovation and ideas, strengthen feelings of compassion, decrease worry and anxiety, express feelings of compassion, build stronger communities, mitigate environmental externalities, and improve the economic value of homes– just to name a few of the benefits.
The green industry cannot overemphasize the importance of this quality of life message, particularly in focusing its differentiation strategies in the future. That because of whether one are member of the Boomer, Gen X, or Gen Y generation, quality of life is a “higher order” need that is important to them. For example, although the economic downturn has increased anxiety on the part of Baby Boomers about retirement, they are nevertheless proactive in seeking innovative solutions to dealing with age. They view their new stage of life as one of activity and fulfillment rather than idleness. Gen X is the most “time-starved” generation, often juggling career and family obligations, but they maintain a strong commitment to work-life balance in their lives. The Gen Y generation is just beginning their adult lives and facing lots of firsts: their first home, first job, and most importantly, first independent income. They are trying to find the right balance between spending for necessities and spending for entertainment. This generation is concerned not just with function and utility but also with style.
All of these generational attitudes come down to one thing – enhancing the quality of their lives through emotional well-being, ecosystems benefits, and economic paybacks. Research shows that there’s no better way to do this than through the daily use and/or enjoyment of flowers, plants, and trees. All the green industry has to do now is convince consumers of this in a manner that they view their products and services as necessities instead of luxuries. This will, of course, make the industry even more recession resistant in the future.
Economic, Environmental, and Health/Well-Being Benefits Associated with Green Industry Products and Services: A Review (Journal of Environmental Horticulture 29(2):96-103.
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