The plethora of benefits provided by flowers, shrubs, and trees is not common knowledge, let alone ingrained in modern day American culture. Humans often have difficulty in even seeing flowers or plants in their own environment, much less connecting plants to tangible benefits – a phenomenon called plant blindness. For most people, flowers and other plants are a part of the subconscious sector of mental life, perceived as the backdrop, not the main actors in the playing out of our everyday lives.
All industry firms need to emphasize these types of “benefits” messages in the marketing efforts of their individual companies. A new publication that summarizes these benefits is entitled Economic, Environmental, and Health/Well-Being Benefits Associated with Green Industry Products and Services: A Review and was published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture (Issue 29(2):96-103) thanks to the Horticultural Research Institute. Since previous efforts on the part of the industry to provide a united voice through a generic advertising campaign (e.g. Got Milk) have been met with a less-than-enthusiastic response, firm-level marketing of these benefits may be the best alternative (in the short run) to propagate the quality of life value proposition.
Of course, one industry-wide effort that is already in place that has shown to be quite effective in conveying this message is America in Bloom (AIB). Now in its tenth anniversary, the program has countered early naysayers by effectively not only conveying the industry’s message of beautification, but one of economic development, provision of environmental amenities, and enhancement of health and well-being as well. Almost 200 cities and several million citizens have been exposed to AIB’s message; undoubtedly benefiting the countless local businesses in those trade areas. One such business owner stated publicly at this year’s OFA Short Course that they had experienced an 8 percent increase in business during the period their city had participated in America in Bloom. While this alone is impressive, it is exciting to consider that as AIB continues to expand, even more synergistic benefits will likely result.
There is an old adage that says: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” This latest economic downturn has certainly caused us all to do some things differently than we had been doing them previously. We’re doing more with fewer people and in some cases, fewer resources. But as we move into the future, even more aggressive marketing will be needed to ensure that we are considered as necessities in our consumers’ lives and not mere luxuries. Now is exactly the time to make those strategic marketing investments both as individual firms and through industry-wide efforts.