Here’s to Being New By Bridget White

Editor's Report

As this month’s cover shows, we have another MarketingInnovation Award winner. And while there was an unusually large pool of qualityprograms under consideration, the GPN/MasterTag judges agreed that the NovalisGroup’s “Plants That Work” was the clear winner. Not only did theprogram’s designers answer the number one consumer question — “Is thisfor sun or shade?” — they did it in a way that sells more of theirplants, a unique characteristic among marketing programs. See page 30 for acomplete explanation of the program.

The Novalis Group is a new, innovative company that deservescloser inspection. Like other notable marketing groups such as The FlowerFields, Proven Winners and the Kalamazoo County Co-op, these companies havebanded together, pooled resources and are making their mark on the industry.But the really interesting thing about Novalis is that they are bringinginnovation to categories that have very little. Perennials, roses, beddingplants — not the poster children for new and exciting.

So for bringing excitement to an old product category, foranswering consumer questions before they are asked and for developing a systemthat sells more of your product, we’re excited to name the “Plants ThatWork” program the GPN/MasterTag Marketing Innovator of 2003.

Lessons From Pack Trials

As it has been since our inception in 1991, June marks thebeginning of GPN’s Pack Trial coverage. In both the June and July issues,you’ll see extensive coverage of the best new introductions for 2004 (see page52 for this month’s coverage). We sent three of our editors, along with oureditorial consultant Dr. Jim Barrett and our columnist and editorial advisoryboard member Dr. Rick Schoellhorn, both from the University of Florida, toscour the Trials. We spent seven days on the road and visited approximately 30breeders. In between silly string, which by the way can stain clothes, andstrawberries and mile after mile in the car, we collected information on someof the best new varieties yet to hit our market.

The variety information will be summarized in the next twoissues and will be expounded on the rest of the year, but there were somegeneral impressions that I wanted to share that really don’t fit into thearticles we’ll be writing. Here they are.

Attendance is critical.While it is by far not the highest attended industry event, the Pack Trials isthe most important showcase of plant material in our industry. Every major andmost of the minor breeders are exhibitors; entire lines of old and new materialcan be viewed; and the personal attention is unachievable elsewhere. The PackTrials is quickly becoming a must-attend for everyone, not just the big boys.

Industry Potential is Unlimited. Every year, I think the display at Pack Trials willbe less than the year before. Every year I’m proven wrong. There is so muchinnovation in our industry, be that in marketing or new species or newpresentations, that we have no excuse for not capturing more of consumer’sdisposable income.

Confusion is rampant.The explosion in plant material over the past five or so years has left most ofus confused about what plant to use in which situation, what company produceswhich series, how a new series should be used and even how to profit from allthat’s offered. GPN’s revised culture section will help with many of the questionsrelated to production and usage, but as business owners, we’ll all have to takeresponsibility for the rest.

Every crop has a market.This point was driven home to me by Jack Williams of the Paul Ecke Ranch. Hewas showing me their new chocolate calibrachoa, and over my objections that a”brown” plant is unattractive, he grouped together peach and purplecompanion plants that made a beautiful combination. What I saw was creativityat work. Jack by-passed the standard combinations and went for somethingunique, and it really stood out. I started imagining what great combinationscould be made with some of the other unusual plants I had seen all week –plants that didn’t fit “the mold.”

Our industry rocks.Spending a week looking at the mostbeautiful plants in the world really gives you perspective about what a greatindustry we’re in.



Bridget White

Bridget White is Editorial Director of GPN. She can be reached at (847) 391-1004 * bwhite@sgcmail.com.



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GPN recognizes 40 industry professionals under the age of 40 who are helping to determine the future of the horticulture industry. These individuals are today’s movers and shakers who are already setting the pace for tomorrow.
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