New HTA marketing group hears plan for customer research and promotion

Forthcoming HTA research will survey people on the street this month on what newcomers to grow your own (GYO) are growing and whether they still buy autumn as well as spring bedding plants.

The new HTA cross-industry marketing committee heard the plans for the Omnibus surveys from IPSOS Mori as the group had its first full meeting, held to progress joint marketing approaches to benefit the garden industry.

HTA president Caroline Owen of Scotsdales Garden Centre chaired representatives from Aylett Nurseries, Bents Garden Centre, Bransford Webbs Plants, Burleydam Garden Centre, Farplants, Gardman, John Woods Nurseries, Fiskars and Sankey, Scotts and Westland Horticulture.

Owen said: "With a heightened interest in gardening, it makes sense for the industry to work together on key initiatives in order to present a more powerful message to the consumer.

"There are great benefits to be had by bringing together individuals from across the industry and this group certainly approached the task in hand with great enthusiasm and commitment."

They also discussed marketing initiatives including TV advertising, promotional offers and vouchers and wackier events such as beautiful bunny competitions and tortoise weigh-in events.

The group agreed on a rolling 18-month industry programme promoting plants and link-sale opportunities through PlantforLife and Plant of the Month initiatives.

It heard an update on the HTA web-based consumer platform, which will link through to individual member's own websites, and on new phone-based applications.

The full committee will meet again in November. HTA focus group work next month will also look at attitudes to GYO and perceptions of why people visit garden centres.

- Meanwhile, the rebranded HTA British Conifer group - formerly the Association of Conifer Growers - is to be relaunched at an event at Ashwood Nurseries.

Exploring Conifers is a free day designed to bring growers and retailers together to work more closely on how conifers can be sold and to update members on HTA promotional activity.

HTA public relations manager Gill Ormrod said the new group will have a wider remit, focusing on more cooperation between grower and retailer.

Group chairman Roger Ward said: "We have opened the group to the whole of HTA membership to give garden centres the opportunity to visit enthusiasts of this group of plants to give them inspiration for their centres." The event includes a series of talks, including reports on National Conifer Week.

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