Overwintering pansies — a new development? Not by any means. However, it is fairly new to retailers and consumers, as they were typically unaware that pansies overwinter. But their awareness has increased with the help of a few marketing programs, namely Winter Survivors — the 2003 runner-up of the GPN/MasterTag Marketing Innovation Award. The Winter Survivor program was right there when it all started, pushing its popularity.
The program began about four years ago, originally called Second Season. Last year, however, it was revamped a bit to convey the benefit of overwintering pansies more clearly. The name was changed to Winter Survivor. Since the beginning, the idea of overwintering pansies has become the industry standard with staying power.
The Winter Survivor program is an older one, which makes it an even easier winner to pick. You know it's a successful program when other programs are modeled after it.
Galema's Greenhouse, West Lafayette, Ind., used the program for the first time last fall. "People were calling asking for an overwintering program, so we implemented it."
The POP, complete with a flat talker, tag, banner and bench card, display the symbol of winter — a penguin. "The penguin was a well-known symbol with the Second Season program, so we wanted to keep that," said Allyson Szafranski, marketing communications manager for S&G Flowers. When customers see the penguin, then magnificent color, they start to wonder how the two go together, drawing them in.
The smart design and simple look give a unique presence that's easy to sell. The POP is also a plus when selling the program to customers. "We supplied the POP free of charge to our customers," said Galema. "That's really the first marketing program we've used to the ç extent of the POP," said Galema. "We carry other branded plants and tag them appropriately, but we don't really use as much of their POP."
For Bell Nursery, Burtonsville, Md., who also used the program for the first time last fall, the draw was the aesthetics of the marketing. "We liked the graphics and the name," said Gary Mangum, co-owner of Bell Nursery. "It was something that worked out very well for us."
The pansies in the program — Delta, Sky and Skyline series — are ranked high in many trials. The Sky series rated high in trials in Michigan, the place for extreme weather.
Behind every good series is a pallet of color. Because the program includes so many different series, the color variety is extensive. Colors range from red to white to orange, with or without blotch, and include pure colors and color mixes. "Our customers like the color selection in the Winter Survivors — Delta, Sky and Skyline," said Galema.
Every POP piece displays the statement "Guaranteed or your money back," which conveys confidence in the program. One thing many consumers have trouble with is their own lack of confidence. Just think: How many times have you heard someone say, "Oh, I have a black thumb," or "I kill plants just by looking at them." This signage tells them they won't fail at this, and if they do, they won't have to pay for it.
While the guarantee is a great piece of this program, the way it is displayed is just as great. The tags display a clever statement, "Guaranteed: Survives Winter's Freeze. Re-Blooms in Spring with Ease." It gives the consumer the instructions and address to send in any failed attempts.
We all know that consumers are slow to realize what's out there. Overwintering pansies may have gained popularity, but more is coming. The growers using this program know that too. "We've already got the plants and the POP ordered for next year," said Galema. "Our customers were pretty happy with it."
Mangum foresees a bigger growth in the program after satisfying his customer with it. "We'll be doing about 20 percent more this year."