A shift that led to a leap

Departments - Outlook

February 24, 2016

A year ago at AmericanHort’s NextLevel conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., we got our first glimpse into the results of a yearlong research initiative undertaken by the association in collaboration with MindMarket at the Columbus College of Art & Design, with the collaboration of the Horticultural Research Institute — SHIFT. This research aimed to go farther and deeper into the mind of the green industry customer to determine how the industry needs to “shift” in order to secure its future.

The researchers visited 40 different retail stores across the U.S. to gather as much information as possible about the stores, products, customers and more. Upon completion, the initiative developed 30 insights and recommendations for improvement based on the findings, which were shared at Cultivate’15 in Columbus, Ohio this past July. Among them were observations such as most consumers don’t identify with the term “gardener,” choosing terms such as “urban dweller,” “DIYer” or “homemaker”; and profiles of potential customers, including why they buy, how to get specific customer groups in the door and develop loyalty. You can read more about SHIFT at AmericanHort’s website, americanhort.org.

So why am I telling you about this retail research in a grower publication? The answer is simple — if retailers thrive, they’ll buy more plants from your operations. And if you’re tuned into the trends, you’ll know how to adjust your product mix for maximum sales.

The SHIFT conclusions were compelling enough that one of the participating students decided that she was going to take the information and open her own retail store to test them out. Emily Brown, together with business partner and boyfriend Brian Kellett, opened the doors on their new retail plant store in October 2015, STUMP. Turn to page 12 to learn more about Brown and Kellett’s leap into the plant world and other indoor plant trends making their mark in the retail world.

Karen E. Varga, Editor


216-393-0290 | Twitter: @Karen_GIE