How growers make use of plant tags

Features - Marketing

3 growers share their experiences using plant tags and labels to their advantage.

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April 25, 2017
Neil Moran
Plant care tags are the only consumer marketing Kent’s Bromeliad Nursery Inc. uses.
Photo courtesy of Michael Kent

There is no substitute for great-looking plants. But to get that plant from the greenhouse to the checkout takes some good packaging along with plant tags and labels that not only get the attention of today’s savvy consumers, but also provide all the information consumers need to successfully grow that plant. Plant tags can also help in branding efforts and customer loyalty by displaying a company logo or other eye-catching graphic that shouts out, “This is our plant!” If the devil is in the details, then it pays to pay attention to the details when it comes to plant tags and labels. There are a few things growers need to hammer out with the manufacturer of their tags: the shape and design of the tag (i.e., graphics, and whether it is going to be a stick-on label, a plastic tag, or be attached to a stake that can be stuck in the soil in the pot). And most importantly, it needs to have sufficient growing information in the available space on the tag.

Here is how three different growers are using plant tags and labels to their advantage.

Certified Roses, Inc.

Located in Tyler, Texas, the “Rose Capital of the United States,” Certified Roses is the largest producer and wholesaler of roses in the country, selling packaged and container roses to everyone from independent garden centers to the big box stores.

Plant tags are a vital part of marketing efforts for the company. Their tag program has evolved in sync with not only the different buying habits of consumers, but the improved rose stock they receive from top breeders in this country and others.

“Roses in particular have had a bad rap for high maintenance and disease,” says Karen Omholt, marketing director for Certified Roses, Inc. “The improved genetics we have so far make roses a lot easier to grow and we’re trying to get that message out there, and packaging is certainly a big part of that message.”

Omholt says their plant tags have come a long way from the traditional tag with a beauty shot and growing instructions. They now collaborate with a designer and manufacturer to produce a custom fold-over nursery tag that helps the consumer envision how the plant will look in their garden. Inside the tag are growing instructions and links to their website and a very active Facebook page. She says the tags appeal to younger customers who are becoming increasingly interested in gardening and are looking for as much information as possible before they buy.

“The first tag they helped us produce was for the Miranda Lambert and Miracle on the Hudson roses, two huge sellers for us,” says Omholt. “There was so much positive feedback and we loved it so much that we took that format and are now applying it to our entire product line that’s in the works right now. We’re redesigning our tags. I think it will make a big difference at point of sales because they work harder to make a sale.”

The bottom line is improving the customer experience, which is something plant tags can help with. “We want to make plants more accessible and relevant for customers,” says Omholt. “Our tags are a little more of a lifestyle piece than just a tag.”

Kent’s Bromeliad Nursery Inc.

Established in 1975 by Jeffrey, Larry, and Michael Kent, this family-owned business thrives from their location in Vista, Calif. They wholesale 100 different varieties of bromeliads grown in their 875,000-square-foot nursery.

Because bromeliads often stay in the greenhouse much longer than, say, spring petunias, the soil can get a little hard. Thus, the plastic arrow tags don’t work well for these plant containers. Instead, they use a tag on a plastic pick that is inserted in the soil. An attractive tag hangs from the pick. The tag contains a nice picture of the plant. On the flip side is all the growing information a consumer needs to properly care for the plant. A web address directs consumers to more information on bromeliads and the company.

“A link to our website is important,” says Michael Kent, VP of sales. “One can say a lot more on a website compared to a little care tag.”

Kent’s produce the copy for their tags and have them printed off site. The tags are important to their marketing and branding efforts and have obviously been effective given how long these folks have been in business.

“Plant care tags are the only consumer marketing we use,” says Kent. “The return on investment is good.”

Parks Brothers Farm uses small tags to keep focus on the quality of the plants.
Photo courtesy of Jason Parks

Parks Brothers Farm, Inc.

Also a family-owned business, Parks Brothers Farm both wholesales and sells plants from their garden center located in Van Buren, Ariz. They grow a variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables, along with poinsettias for winter sales. Because of this, they use a wide variety of tags of various sizes.

“We try to balance our largest tag we can affordably use for each container,” says operations manager Jason Parks.

He says they use the smaller pixie tags in their packs and 1800’s, mini portrait tags and junior portrait tags in their larger containers and hang tags in their baskets. Parks is aware of the limited space on the tags and that a picture and copy needs to be somehow reconciled to get the biggest bang for their buck.

“Since there is limited real estate on tags, there is not a whole lot of information that can be added when you have a large picture,” says Parks. “We feel that in most cases the plants should be able to show the consumer what they look like, and therefore, larger tags with larger pictures aren’t really necessary so we usually default to a smaller tag where we can.”

The tags have barcodes so they can be scanned at point of sale. He says they barcode by category price points only. All J6 annual flats have the same barcode, but items in their #6 premium category have three different price points so they have three barcodes in that category based on pricing.

And while the company spends a good deal of time agonizing over what goes on a tag, there is no substitute for great-looking plants.

“Tags are somewhat important. However, no matter how nice a tag you have, if the plants are not good quality then a super nice tag makes absolutely no difference,” says Parks. “We try to focus on quality while using a tag that provides a decent amount of information without spending outrageous amounts of money on a premium tag.”

Neil is a horticulturist and freelance copywriter for the green industry, assisting businesses with advertising copy, blog posts, articles, and other digital content. greenindustrywriter.com