Nursery Management Conference: 'a decade in days'
Alec Charais leads a discussion on customer retention at The Nursery Management Conference, Sept. 15, 2021.
Matt McClellan

Nursery Management Conference: 'a decade in days'

The green industry has had to adapt quickly to meet the post-COVID consumer's wants and needs.

September 17, 2021

© Matt McClellan
Alec Charais

Editor’s note: The Nursery Management Conference took place Sept. 14-16 in Arlington, Texas. Over the next week, we’ll be giving you a glimpse of what you missed if you didn’t attend.

Alec Charais, chief marketing and product development officer for Bailey Nurseries, talked about customer retention and how Bailey aims to keep those new customers that became hobbyists during the COVID lockdown.

"We have covered 'a decade in days,'" Charais said. "COVID transformed consumer behavior, now and forever."

This is especially true in the adoption of digital storefronts, curbside delivery options and other customer service initiatives. 

Charais cited a McKinsey study that claimed there are eight spheres affected by COVID: Shopping and consumption, life at home, play and entertainment, health and wellbeing, travel and mobility, communications and information, learning, and work.

Now that restaurants, concerts, movies and travel are back in full swing, the green industry needs to work diligently to keep consumer dollars from sliding back to those other areas. 

The good news, Charais said, is that the work-from-home movement and lower travel spending is not going away. Growers and garden centers can still benefit particularly from the life at home and travel and mobility spheres. 

"You don't have to make a trip to consume our product," Charais said. 

Millennials, in particular, believe home is an expression of their personal style, he said. And if the industry succeeds in marketing to them in ways that reach them on their level, they can decorate that home with lots of plants.

Although he reminded the attendees not to ignore the boomer/Gen X customer, he planted the reality that the wealth changeover is happening sooner than you may think. By 2029, millennials will control the largest percentage share of disposable income.

Watch for more from the 2021 Nursery Management Conference.