When “The Complete Guide to Garden Center Management” was published in 2002, plant branding was still in its infancy. The book’s author, international retail consultant John Stanley, urged garden centers to be “aware and prepared” for plant brands. He also suggested successful brands would focus on consumer needs and lifestyle, not company promotion.
In the intervening years, IGCs have faced wave after wave of plant branding. Some brands around in 2002 have prospered, such as Proven Winners, Wave and Flower Carpet, just to name a few. Others came and went. Plant branding efforts demand continual attention and enhancement to gain and retain relevance with modern consumers. From introducing new brands to refreshing and rebranding existing plant lines, brand willingness to listen, respond, and re-create is essential.
PureBlooms: Providing solutions through a new brand
As marketing manager for gerbera specialist Florist Holland B.V., Natasja van Ruiten targets international lifestyle trends and solutions consumers seek. “In North America or Europe, interest in sustainability and healthy living becomes more important every year,” she says. “There is a demand from consumers for clean air, clean water, clean environment, clean food, clean medicine. This is changing buying behaviors for indoors and outdoors.”
Equipped with the belief that gerberas could provide a solution, van Ruiten wasn’t content with data from 1990s NASA research showing gerberas were leading contenders for cleaning air. Florist Holland commissioned new air-purification research, which confirmed gerberas are the No. 1 flowering plant in breaking down harmful, everyday gasses commonly found indoors.
Van Ruiten also explored research on buying behaviors related to blooming plant purchases. Research shows that color is a priority, but flowering plant purchases provoke a greater emotional response as well — one connected with a sense of happiness. In gerberas, van Ruiten saw a solution. “They purify the air in the home and make you feel good,” she explains.
The result was the PureBlooms plant brand. Launched in 2017 at California Spring Trials and European Flower Trials, the new plant brand and its “pure air — pure happiness” tagline gets its first full season of exposure this year. In Europe, where flowering plants are used indoors much more extensively than in the United States, response has been very positive. Van Ruiten expects North America to follow suit in time.
PureBlooms packaging underscores the brand’s focus with simple, biodegradable covers that tell the story, yet showcase the flower. Other labeling options emphasize the “clean plant” brand’s natural look and reinforce its purpose and value. While just one plant has an impact, the brand is developing combination planters with plant trios capable of cleaning entire rooms.
“In Europe, it’s happening,” van Ruiten says. “They understand it. It’s simple and clear that it’s green and they’re doing something good.” With an eye toward expanding the PureBlooms brand, she is encouraging other blooming plant breeders to listen to consumers and research the air-cleaning qualities of their plants, too.
Burpee Plants: Refreshing and relaunching a familiar brand name
W. Atlee Burpee & Co. has been providing gardeners with seeds since 1876. Attaching the Burpee name to plants seemed a natural extension when Ball Horticultural launched the Burpee Home Gardens plant line in 2009. A retail relaunch of the Burpee plant brand hits retail stores this spring. What started as an evolution in container colors became a major refreshing effort for the plant brand.
Brand manager Tim Duffin describes how the update progressed. “The primary goal was to move from the [container’s] earth tones, the greens and the browns, to something more vibrant and contemporary and modern,” he explains. The team eventually settled on a white pot with a yellow accent, but the redesign presented opportunities to enhance other branding aspects as well.
Formally introduced at 2017 California Spring Trials, the refreshed brand’s retail relaunch this year features major innovations.
One change is the brand name itself. Though the website remains BurpeeHomeGardens.com, the brand is now simply Burpee. “I rarely heard consumers talk about Burpee Home Gardens, but I did hear them talk about Burpee,” Duffin explains. “This made sense to me that Burpee should be the name of the plant brand as well.”
Time spent with consumers at retail inspired additional changes. The brand reprioritized plant tag information, front and back, based on direct input. “They wanted to know what it is first, not the variety name,” Duffin says. Tags now start with plant type, then variety name, then an image of the plant at harvest. The Burpee name, formerly at the top, is at the bottom. Information on tag backs has been reorganized as well, all driven by consumer priorities.
The refresh’s next step was creating collections around how consumers want to grow and use Burpee plants. “We listened to [consumers] when they said, ‘Simplify it. Make it easy to choose what I want to choose,’” Duffin says. The result is six collections, with color-coded tags and names like Space Saver and Foodie Fresh, designed to simplify plant choices and reinforce the solutions the collections provide.
Though it’s premature for a retail response, industry feedback is good. “Our growers are absolutely thrilled that we’ve made a change to create some excitement and to contemporize this brand at retail,” Duffin says.
Bushel and Berry: Rebranding an established line on two shores
When Star Roses and Plants acquired BrazelBerries from Fall Creek Farm and Nursery in 2016, enthusiasm for the line was widespread. But feedback from growers, IGCs and consumers soon identified some brand confusion, including questions of whether “brazelberries” were new genetically-modified fruits. The input wasn’t taken lightly. After much deliberation, a total rebranding began, and the Bushel and Berry brand was born.
“Rebranding is definitely not an easy process, but we needed our growers to be successful,” says Layci Gragnani, Bushel and Berry program manager. Some growers were understandably hesitant. “We had to provide our growers with compelling points on why this was needed and how it would benefit them – and how we would support them through this rebranding,” she shares.
The brand’s vision for change went beyond the Bushel and Berry name and its “Homegrown Berries” tagline. A distinctive blue-green pot color, reminiscent of the molded-pulp berry baskets used by farmers market vendors, replaced the old brand’s colors. “The color really pops at retail and draws the consumer to it,” Gragnani says. It also evokes a connection to local, homegrown, non-GMO edibles.
The international line’s European rebranding took a slightly different track. “Once we decided to change it in North America, we gave our German partner the option,” Gragnani explains. “Bushel and Berry doesn’t really translate as well to German, and they really liked the story of the genetics behind the plants. The story of where plants come from is very important in the European marketplace.” As a result, the rebranded program’s new look and feel was adapted for the European market. European consumers shop for the distinctive new pot color under a new BrazelBerry brand (not BrazelBerries). Cultivars also carry distinct trade names. For example, the plant known as Blueberry Glaze in North America goes under BerryBux in Europe.
In North America and Europe, the extensive rebranding efforts have been very well received at retail. Bushel and Berry has a 2019 Australian launch and other plans in the works. “The name Bushel and Berry was chosen to be an edible fruit brand, not just berries,” Gragnani says. Expect a consumer-driven expansion into other fruit types, including stone fruits, in the brand’s future.
Standing out and staying relevant among the proliferation of branded plants in the industry today isn’t a simple task. IGCs provide a critical connection between plant brands that will listen and the customers they serve. Consumer interests and demands continue to change, and the most effective branding efforts are prepared to change with them.