As this month's cover shows, we have another Marketing
Innovation Award winner. And while there was an unusually large pool of quality
programs under consideration, the GPN/MasterTag judges agreed that the Novalis
Group's "Plants That Work" was the clear winner. Not only did the
program's designers answer the number one consumer question -- "Is this
for sun or shade?" -- they did it in a way that sells more of their
plants, a unique characteristic among marketing programs. See page 30 for a
complete explanation of the program.
The Novalis Group is a new, innovative company that deserves
closer inspection. Like other notable marketing groups such as The Flower
Fields, Proven Winners and the Kalamazoo County Co-op, these companies have
banded together, pooled resources and are making their mark on the industry.
But the really interesting thing about Novalis is that they are bringing
innovation to categories that have very little. Perennials, roses, bedding
plants -- not the poster children for new and exciting.
So for bringing excitement to an old product category, for
answering consumer questions before they are asked and for developing a system
that sells more of your product, we're excited to name the "Plants That
Work" program the GPN/MasterTag Marketing Innovator of 2003.
As it has been since our inception in 1991, June marks the
beginning 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 page
52 for this month's coverage). We sent three of our editors, along with our
editorial consultant Dr. Jim Barrett and our columnist and editorial advisory
board member Dr. Rick Schoellhorn, both from the University of Florida, to
scour the Trials. We spent seven days on the road and visited approximately 30
breeders. In between silly string, which by the way can stain clothes, and
strawberries and mile after mile in the car, we collected information on some
of the best new varieties yet to hit our market.
The variety information will be summarized in the next two
issues and will be expounded on the rest of the year, but there were some
general impressions that I wanted to share that really don't fit into the
articles we'll be writing. Here they are.
Attendance is critical.
While it is by far not the highest attended industry event, the Pack Trials is
the most important showcase of plant material in our industry. Every major and
most of the minor breeders are exhibitors; entire lines of old and new material
can be viewed; and the personal attention is unachievable elsewhere. The Pack
Trials is quickly becoming a must-attend for everyone, not just the big boys.
Industry Potential is Unlimited
style='font-style:normal'>. Every year, I think the display at Pack Trials will
be less than the year before. Every year I'm proven wrong. There is so much
innovation in our industry, be that in marketing or new species or new
presentations, that we have no excuse for not capturing more of consumer's
Confusion is rampant.
The explosion in plant material over the past five or so years has left most of
us confused about what plant to use in which situation, what company produces
which series, how a new series should be used and even how to profit from all
that's offered. GPN's revised culture section will help with many of the questions
related to production and usage, but as business owners, we'll all have to take
responsibility for the rest.
Every crop has a market.
This point was driven home to me by Jack Williams of the Paul Ecke Ranch. He
was showing me their new chocolate calibrachoa, and over my objections that a
"brown" plant is unattractive, he grouped together peach and purple
companion plants that made a beautiful combination. What I saw was creativity
at work. Jack by-passed the standard combinations and went for something
unique, and it really stood out. I started imagining what great combinations
could be made with some of the other unusual plants I had seen all week --
plants that didn't fit "the mold."
Our industry rocks.
style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Spending a week looking at the most
beautiful plants in the world really gives you perspective about what a great
industry we're in.