During the recent SNA events held in Mobile, AL, in conjunction with the Gulf States Horticultural Expo, a special State of the Industry Roundtable Discussion, presented by SNA, Nursery Management Magazine, and GSHE, was held. The event, sponsored by Atlas Manufacturing
, attracted some of the best of the industry and for two and a half hours many topics were discussed, including challenges in production labor, insect and disease issues and other factors that are affecting profitability.
The Need to Grow Consumer Sales
As we moved through the topics the discussion took focus on the opportunity to boost sales through the consumer, both commercial and residential. Ideas on how to encourage our current consumers were suggested. These ideas ranged from focusing on the benefits of our products such as improving property values to energy conservation. Participants agreed growth in new construction in the foreseeable future is going to be limited and the majority of opportunities will be in renovation (both residential and commercial).
The Consumers of the Future - Gen X & Y
The discussion of increasing consumer sales progressed toward looking at the potential consumers of the future. These groups are typically described as Generation X and Y, which together, will be larger than the Baby Boomers that are entering into the retirement stages currently. The opportunity to begin to communicate to these groups with positive messages about our products was acknowledged. How to organize such an effort was discussed but no one group is currently positioned to take a lead in such an effort. However, it was agreed if we could have a common message for all industry firms to use each season, we begin to have an impact how these consumers view our products. One idea was to engage our researchers involved the SNA Research Conference's marketing section to help determine how to attract these new consumer groups.
Follow Up Conference Call with Researchers
On February 1, Dr. Charlie Hall, Texas A&M, Dr. Bridget Behe, Michigan State Univ., and Dr. Forest Stegelin, Univ. of Georgia, participated in furthering this discussion, particularly in the area of engaging these new consumer groups (Gen X & Y). The discussion confirmed some indicators of opportunity for our industry (our products) to be accepted by these groups as they are increasingly aware of environmental issues. A number of state or local initiatives with similar focus are underway. A good "first step" might be to help identify these initiatives.
Next Step - Help Identify Current Consumer Focused Programs Underway
In the coming weeks, we will begin to report on some of the Consumer Focused programs being initiated across the country. In doing so, we hope to bring together a consensus of what we can communicate as an industry to help drive consumer sales of our products.
Stay tuned for more details!
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If you are not an SNA Member, you can simply send an email to me, Danny Summers, at mailto:email@example.com.