Whether you're a professional gardener or not, our business is essentially based on communication. To get people talking about our products and services, we have to do a bit of advertising. Is plant communication used by our internal departments? And what are we talking about with this "plant communication"?
The subject is vast... We could start by talking about the communication specific to plants. Aristotle, 4 centuries BC (and 6 before JdC Garden Trends 😜) had already defined the place of plants. For him, they were of inferior rank, serving only to feed humans and animals. With a prejudice like that, needless to say, science wasn't quick to look into the subject... And even today, we're quicker to launch actions for animal protection than plant protection.
Fortunately, things are changing and a number of researchers are discovering the formidable capacities of plants, including communication. In 1880, Darwin even wrote: "It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the radicle of a plant behaves like the brain of one of the lower animals". A brain, a thought, a memory? Ouch! Experiments have shown that trees attacked by a predator suddenly increase their production of tannin while producing ethylene to warn their neighbours. It's not in the form of a catalogue, but plants use communication too!
Plants and (is?) the garden!
OK, that's all well and good, but we're retailers, salespeople, company directors... And all this talk doesn't sound concrete. Communicating about plants doesn't sell garden furniture... I've got it, I've got it, I've got it!
For as long as the specialist garden trade has existed, the share of plants in sales has changed. In the 1960s and 1970s, the first Garden Centres often had 3 departments: plants, including seeds and bulbs, pots and potting soil. Just enough to plant and decorate.
Gradually, we added other departments to smooth out the figures over the year. Today, we're talking about gardening, well-being, local produce, pet supplies and home decoration, all under the garden banner. If today's sales figures for specialist garden outlets are 25% plant-based and 75% 'other'... then for the consumer, the entry point is still plant-based. And we need to respect this image by including plants in our various communications.
A terrace with garden furniture, decorations and a barbecue without even a potted plant next to it... It just doesn't do!
A way in?
Looking at the stands or catalogues of our exhibitors at Journées des Collections, and with a little hindsight, we could hope to see a little more plant life. Even in fertilisers and crop protection products, the presence of plants could be increased. Indeed, without plants, there are no tools, no spades, no soil, no care... When you discuss this subject with some of you, you have excuses, and good ones at that:
- What counts is our products, the rest is meaningless window dressing.
- Our customers are distributors, they want to get straight to the point, they don't need frills.
- Staging is expensive and time-consuming.
Beyond the price and the time spent introducing plants into communications, it's above all a desire to be pragmatic. But retail decision-makers are above all gardeners, or enthusiasts. Putting your products in a green environment won't win you any listings, but at least your image will be resolutely garden-oriented and marked by professionalism. It's a detail, of course, but it's also a signature and a form of commitment.
In our Garden 2024 Consumer Guide, in partnership with JdC Garden Trends, we interviewed a number of professionals. One of them is not involved in gardening, but he is interested in it for communication purposes. The boss of Sprout World pencils explains that he has chosen a resolutely plant-based approach to sell his products. He targets both businesses and the general public. His pencils are 100% plant-based and can be planted to produce a beautiful flower at the end of their life. His business customers use these pencils as goodies, and he's a big hit!
The image of plants, in whatever form, is a considerable asset. Even Nespresso and its totally compostable coffee capsules are convinced of this. We're right at the heart of the fray. We have all the credibility we need to use plants in our communications. So why not?
Whatever the lock, plants are the key!
- Roland Motte... Gardener!