From the Editor: July 2013

June 17, 2013
Written by
When it comes to production innovation, the greenhouse industry takes a back seat to no one. This has long been true on the production side of things.

The move to more innovative marketing is now becoming more of a focus. Nature Fresh Farms, as one example, has developed an automated produce department merchandising system that helps ensure optimal storage conditions for cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. It’s featured in a YouTube video and certainly worth checking out.

PickOntario has done an amazing job of promoting locally grown flowers in the province. It’s set a template of how “buy local” programs can be launched and maintained. Check the website and follow the tweets.

The challenge of our industry is that while we can grow with the best of them, we need to spend a little more time marketing the “greenhouse” label.

“The aim of marketing,” said business guru Peter Drucker, “is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

Do greenhouse products yet sell themselves? Could they one day achieve this goal?

We know advertising and marketing work. Some of the top campaigns over the past few decades still resonate, including “The Pause That Refreshes” (Coca Cola); “Think Small” (Volkswagen); “We Try Harder” (Avis); “Tastes Great, Less Filling” (Miller Lite); “Just Do It” (Nike); “A Diamond is Forever” (DeBeers); and “You Deserve A Break Today” (McDonald’s). And who can forget the “Where’s the Beef” campaign of Wendy’s restaurants that was prime time in 1984-85?

Those campaigns may have long been placed on a shelf, but we still relate those companies to those messages. (Sadly, I can still recite the mid-1970s McDonald’s jingle … “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, pickles, cheese, onions on a sesame seed bun…” and I was a teenager when I first heard it.

The greenhouse industry is a $2.5-billion industry in Canada. It is one of the few horticulture sectors in the country that exports. It’s a big player in agriculture and commerce in general. We’re quite the success story, right?

Well, yes, but more people should have heard the message.

We need to work a little harder on the establishment of the “Canadian greenhouse brand,” so that consumers associate it with environmentally responsible, locally grown, premium products.

I did an informal survey of the archives of major news media in Canada earlier this year, and found the number of story references to greenhouse flowers or greenhouse vegetables lagged well behind those of aquaculture, strawberries, potatoes, wheat, grapes and dairy. The good news is we outpaced Brussels sprouts and asparagus. But not by much.

We have our work cut out for us. Consumers should hear more about the industry and its accomplishments, its range of products, and its people.

The more they know, the more they’ll buy.

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