More on plant branding

hortcouture.jpgHere is a link to one of our more popular posts concerning plant branding. There are lot's of great comments including this one from last night. It's from Jim Monroe of Hort Couture who's business, "offers the most sought after new plants and genetics from the world’s best breeders and plants people. The marketing of upscale plant products as 'couture' quality identifies with our industry’s leading demographic. Fashion conscious women make up the vast majority of consumers purchasing color for their gardens and containers. Upscale packaging, marketing assistance and gorgeous plants are what make this program so appealing." We had quite a conversation back in August when the subject was "Where is the Passion?" The conversation got very interesting after author Amy Stewart was quoted saying,"We told Hort Coture that their handbags-and-high heels marketing was sexist and insulting–that it assumed that women were only interested in plants as fashion accessories. (And that women give a shit about fashion accessories. Have these people met any women?)"

Jim's comment from last night includes this, "Hort Couture is a brand that will never be in the box stores. My wife and I grew up in the industry and truly feel impassioned to help the IGC (independent garden center). We have yelled this from the roof tops since the day we started our company in late 2007. It is an important message for the independent to hear from us." This dovetails with the recent news that Monrovia Nursery is exploring the idea of selling to the box stores. Monrovia has for the last 15 years dealt exclusively with independents. According to Monrovia the economic downturn has forced them to take this route for their very survival. The independents have supported Monrovia for years through advertising, and paying more for Monrovia's plants than other wholesale nurseries charge.

Jim's message is timely as I was thinking about this last night. While I support Monrovia's right to sell to whom ever they wish, I feel a bit let down. We have supported Monrovia for years and to receive a letter threatening to sell to the boxes if we independents don't pony up an add, additional $22 million in booking's leaves one with a bad taste. They had hired a box store specialist from bankrupt Hines nursery before the letter was ever sent out. We only found out about this yesterday. This has been in the works for awhile. We have heard from quite a few people who say Monrovia has no choice but to sell to the box stores.  How in the world did they ever get to this point? This make Jim's statement, "Hort Couture is a brand that will never be in the box stores," that much stronger.

Whatever you think about Hort Couture and their branding efforts, the fact that Jim say's they will never sell to box stores is quite a statement. Jim's comment continues, "I hope independents will support our efforts to help the industry. We really do care and are working tirelessly to help right now. Our sales are very strong in the midst of so much bad news. We are blessed with this. I enjoy all of the opinions here and learn from them."

My blog has always been a work based on a passion for the nursery business.  By having a forum for all to speak their minds it helps the business of horticulture. It wasn't that long ago when our trade was very insular and not good at changing with the times. By allowing a forum for gardeners, garden bloggers, garden media, horticulturalist, nursery owners, etc. we become a more open minded and nimble trade. Jim is able to hear someone who doesn't like his branding, and speaks her mind. He also here's from those that approve of his efforts. This is valuable information as we go forward into a new era for the trade. We must become a more open industry, willing to listen to different points of view.