Promotional Campaign Could Grow Flower Bulb Market, according to Professor Kenny Herbst

2.4.2011 Article, General, School News

Woodbine heads budding $5.7M bulb effort
reposted from The Business Journal| by Owen Covington

The Woodbine Agency is hoping to do for Dutch flower bulbs what the “Got Milk?” campaign did for dairy products, or the “Beef — It’s What’s for Dinner” promotion did for sirloins.

The Winston-Salem brand revitalization agency has been selected by Anthos, the Royal Trade Association for Nursery Stock and Flower Bulbs, to head a three-year, $5.7 million effort to promote flower bulb gardening across North America. This group of competing Dutch growers is hoping to appeal to a younger, predominately female audience that might be more at home using their fingers to send text messages than to dig in the dirt.

“We want flower bulbs to be relevant in women’s lives, rather than something that’s on the side,” said Peter Mitchell, president and CEO of Woodbine.

The group of 17 growers backing the marketing push account for 85 percent of U.S. flower bulb exports from the Netherlands, and are hoping to revive sagging bulb sales in North America. Part of the challenge lies in appealing to a generation that is not as familiar with gardening, or more interested in the instant gratification of purchasing plants already in bloom over the patience needed for bulb gardening, Mitchell said.

“It really is an easy thing to do, but some people are very intimidated by it and don’t want to do it,” Mitchell said of bulb gardening. A recent study has shown “there’s an opportunity to reach out to these Gen X and Gen Y women in a new way.”

Though in competition with each other, the growers that make up Anthos see the value in promoting bulb gardening itself rather than solely focusing their efforts on their individual brands, Mitchell said.

Kenny Herbst, assistant professor of marketing at Wake Forest University’s Schools of Business, said such a collaborative effort from competitors can help expand the market for a particular commodity.

“Although a specific brand may not be mentioned in this type of promotional effort, the brands that comprise the category could experience increased market share as a result of the enhanced general awareness of the product,” Herbst said.

Woodbine’s work with Fafard, a line of potting soils from Syngenta, was part of what helped them land the Anthos contract, and hopefully will lead to more clients within the gardening industry.

Anthos is one among a recent string of new clients that has Woodbine looking to add five members to its current staff of 22.

Last month, Woodbine was selected to be the agency of record for First Community Bank, which has more than 50 banking centers and is based in Bluefield, Va. In November, the agency was chosen by the state Division of Public Health to conduct a campaign designed to educate residents about the impact of “built environments” in their communities.