As we start a new trading year, it is important that retailers and growers are aware in advance of what will be hot, and what will not, in terms of plant labelling. One crucial trend that helps to dictate this is passed down from fashion and interior design through to high street and retail in general - and that is colour.
The in-house design team at Hortipak understands colour trends two years in advance and prepares its own palettes from the results of detailed global research. Palettes are chosen for the horticultural market and weighted towards spring and summer, but also covering autumn and winter.
As well as palettes for 2016, 2017 and 2018, Hortipak also produces a combined palette containing a selection of the median colours across all three years, thus giving longevity to a brand or design for at least a three-year period.
"Future colour trends are researched globally and published by companies such as Pantone," says Hortipak creative director Philip Mabon. "They influence the colour of the clothing, fashion accessories, home furnishings, decorating paints and wallpapers found in our high street stores and retailers.
"The continuation of these colour trends from retail sectors such as home furnishing into garden retailing make sense to the consumer by association. As with fashion and home furnishings, where colours are chosen for particular customer profiles and age groups, so colours are selected for horticultural products."
Fresh HTA research has found that "colour is shown to be critical in getting shoppers to stop at fixtures and engage with plants". The knowledge of colour trends, combined with that of customer profiling and consumer behaviour, helps Hortipak to ensure that its labelling, point of sale (POS), branding and promotional material are always relevant and attractive.
Size and information
As well as colour, size remains a key factor in formulating a successful label. Information is also important. Bamboo Print director Duncan McLintock points out: "Every year we report that customers are asking for bigger, brighter labels, and this season has been no different. We've been involved in some rebranding exercises that seem to confirm the continued trend for more comprehensive information and more colour images."
Larger labels also lend themselves to the marketing of larger plants, for which there is currently a noticeable demand - perhaps because gardens are generally smaller and there are more people renting rather buying. In these instances, "instant impact" plants provide flexible - and portable - opportunities for brightening up even the most compact space.
Regarding information, McLintock continues: "In common with a lot of food packaging, there is a trend towards providing information on provenance and origins, and it's good to see growers celebrating their regional attributes such as the natural northern hardiness of their plants or the fact that they've been raised in warm West Country sunshine."
With many nurseries now exploiting social media channels as well as featuring QR codes on their labels and POS, the "online factor" is increasingly important. "We've seen research claims that millennial consumers now make up one-third of the world's population and, with an estimated 90 per cent of them to be found on Facebook, using social media is a no-brainer for savvy nurseries," says McLintock.
He has also noticed that with the rise of discount outlets there is now a demand for cartons and pre-pack cards. "This kind of presentation comes into its own with bare-root plants and bulbs, and the larger formats offer opportunities to use colour and type creatively and to maximise the branding," he adds.
Bamboo Print continues to print most of its labels on tag-grade polypropylene but has noticed that different materials are being used for large-format displays, particularly exhibition panels where some of the new fabrics combine an excellent print surface with an unusual effect. These are generally printed by a dye-sublimation process that achieves excellent colour, and the lightweight nature of the material is a boon when setting up a large show stand. When it comes to larger-format POS, Correx and foam board remain the materials of choice - lightweight, durable and easy to print. They also continue to offer good value in a highly cost-conscious market.
The idea that labelling, POS material and packaging should be viewed as one is not a new concept, but it is one that is growing. "In today's retail arena it is vital for growers to make their plants stand out from the crowd by creating labelling and packaging that enhances the appeal to consumers and perception of value and quality. This is the way to increased sales and better margins," says Elburg Smit UK sales manager Mike Sutton.
He suggests that colourful and imaginative labels work even more effectively when complemented with fully co-ordinated storyboards, banners and pot covers to enhance the impact and widen the appeal of the total presentation.
"By working closely with growers, and understanding their aims and objectives, Elburg Smit has developed some very successful campaigns using innovative designs and a range of different presentation media," Sutton explains. "Using our EOS online management system and with free access to Visions Pictures image library, our customers can select, view and edit designs from their desktop."
A recent project with Beaver Plants has brought together the grower's professional conception of a new range with the design and manufacturing skill of Elburg Smit, resulting in striking presentation with labels and POS materials.
Elburg Smit has also collaborated with major plant breeder Moerheim New Plant, working on the planned launch of its new award-winning variety 'Beedance'. This generated an appealing and stylish concept using a novel label shape and design, together with Elburg Smit's new Smartcups printed with a complementary style.
Smartcups are the most recent addition to the range of presentation media available from Elburg Smit. Made from water-resistant card and fully degradable, they are custom designed in short print runs and are ideal for campaigns and promotions. Printed in full colour, Smartcups are an easy and convenient way to present plants by simply placing them in the growing pot inside the cup at the time of despatch.
"Successful plant presentation through the combination of labels, Smartcups, storyboards and banners, with fully integrated designs, is now a proven approach and will become a notable feature of retail scenes in future," says Sutton.
Picking up on the recent HTA research report Selling Plants Profitably, Joy of Plants is making its popular print-your-own bed card tool even more sales-focused for 2016. A key feature is the replacement of "benefits text" with "plant facts" on a new template.
"Buyers now learn how each plant contributes to the joy and beauty of the garden in each season," says Joy of Plants director Terri Jones. "And texts are bigger, bolder and eminently suitable for novice gardeners too."
In addition, the templates can now include spots for adding prices if the retailer desires, while special offers and multi-buy offers get their own templates. Colours also feature prominently on the 2016 bed card tool, with bright plant images as well as coloured borders and backgrounds for bespoke templates that fit with branding.
It is not just ornamentals that get the new treatment. Vegetables and aquatic plants have been added to the library this season, while general POS signs encourage shoppers to engage with the plants with suggestions such as "Touch & Smell the Herbs".
Jones adds: "Our bed card printing tool is hugely popular but we're conscious that we need to keep things current. We keep up with the latest HTA research and listen closely to customers. Our new range of templates makes bed cards become the silent sales assistant, reassuring and encouraging our customers, making them feel good about the whole plant-buying experience, while saving staff time.
"We're able to help retailers react quickly to changes in plant availability, fashions and prices. They can add their own plant information to our library, and our tools automatically create the bed cards and web information that they need so there is no delay in the supply of information for new plant releases."
Joy of Plants is now working with suppliers and growers who want to differentiate themselves by supplying data for their new plants so their retailers can immediately print professional bed cards.
Sheen Botanical Labels
Another busy year has been reported by Sheen Botanical Labels director Christopher Ashton-Jones, with orders coming in from new and existing clients and horticultural organisations.
"One client from whom we have received several orders in recent months is Woburn Abbey, for its Everygreen Plantation," he says.
"The plantation can be traced back to about 1742, when it was referred to in the memorandum book of the fourth Duke of Bedford. The trees were planted by him in celebration of the birth of his daughter, Caroline." The plantation possesses several champion trees among its collection.
Automated system offers savings for growers
Tag Weld, the fast automated label application system from PPC Labels of Melton Mowbray, offers the grower substantial savings in man-hours as well as benefiting from combining price and barcode details on one label that is securely fixed to the pot. Uniformity is also achieved with every label in the same position on the pots.
There are currently more than 50 machines installed throughout Europe and there is growing interest from nurseries in Australia and America. It has also been welcomed by retailers, having proved to be an excellent solution to missing or poorly presented plant labelling.
"It has been another exceptional year for our award-winning Tag Weld labelling system," says PPC Labels marketing co-ordinator Lisa Carr. "This season we have seen Neame Lea Nurseries running with Tag Weld for Tesco and it has caused a tremendous amount of interest from other growers and retailers."
In terms of printing, Carr reports that short run bespoke labels of 250 varieties are becoming more popular. "This gives the opportunity to have a quality bespoke label design for the majority of their range or to trail new varieties without having vast stocks of labels at the end of the season."
--------------------Did you find this article useful? Why not subscribe to the magazine? Please call 08451 55 73 55 for more information or visit www.haysubs.com