Questions with Julie Campbell

Questions with Julie Campbell

Supplement - Cultivate ‘22

New research examines how best to reach the emerging market of new plantspeople.

June 8, 2022

The horticulture world has seen an influx of new plantspeople entering the marketplace. These new consumers are providing new challenges and opportunities for the industry. Dr. Julie H. Campbell is an assistant research scientist (50% teaching/ 50% research) in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia. Her session will provide insight and tools, developed from consumer research, to equip horticulture industry stakeholders to better engage emerging audiences and convert them into lifelong buyers.

What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

There are tons of new people enjoying plants because of the pandemic. People were kind of trapped inside and all of a sudden, they discovered gardening. They discovered that they like plants and even people who had previously walked away from the hobby came back. So the aim of our research is to capture these people, figure out who they are and how can we keep them here. At my session, I’m going to talk about the national survey we did. We had about 2,700 people take it.

What are some examples of the research your group did?

We asked them questions like ‘how do you describe yourself?’ We had listed answers like gardener, plant lover, plant parent, plant saver, or not a plant person at all. We found that different types of people gravitated toward certain language. Out of the 2,700 people, we had about 900 say ‘Yes, I’m a gardener’ but what we also found was that people who say ‘I’m a gardener’ are older people.

People who are younger tend to say ‘I’m a plant parent.’ You and I think of a gardener as someone who actually goes out in the garden, but the younger generation thinks of an old person.

Think about all the people who say they’re a dog mom. There are people who have stickers on the back of their car: ‘Dog mom,’ ‘Dog dad,’ ‘Dog parent.’ We’re seeing the same thing happen with the younger generation. They’re changing the language.

The whole point of the research was to break people out and say ‘This is the population we could target. How could we target this population more?’

Has the consumer research shown if the pandemic gardeners are sticking around?

Yes and no. We’ve had mixed results. Some people say they’re going to go back to not doing plant-related activities. What it comes down to is time. During the pandemic, you were in lockdown. You were working but you didn’t have the commute; you didn’t have the kids going to 47 different activities. With us at least, our kids were in every sport under the sun. We were overscheduled, and during the pandemic, we spent more time together than we had ever in our lives. It was nice! We were trapped in our yard area and we did a lot. My kids learned to bake. We did a garden. Normally we don’t have time to do all that.

It’s going to come down to time. But people have discovered that they enjoy house plants, they enjoy having other plants around them, and they may not go back to the level that we saw during the pandemic, but they’re at least going to be buying more than before.

Can you give an example of some of the insight and tools that could come from this research?

Eventually, we can build different marketing profiles of people and groups. It’s never one size fits all, so we’re hoping to eventually have segments where we can say ‘If you’re trying to market [whatever your product is] in this specific niche market, then you should go after younger people who live in the Midwest, who have no children yet. These are the kind of people you should target and this is what most effectively hits them. This is what they care about.’

Want to go?

Growing Green Industry Profits from an Emerging Market of Plantspeople
Sunday, July 17 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Room: tHRIve Knowledge Center