Shaping the Long-Term Market Demand for Maine’s Nursery and Landscape Industry

Marketing to Maine Consumers

The Independent Garden Centers of Maine (IGCME), a marketing group within the Maine Landscape & Nursery Association (MELNA), started with a handful of independent garden centers cooperating with one another to promote the benefits of buying plants and gardening products at local, independent nurseries. Pooling resources made advertising and promotion more affordable for the independents.

IGCME’s first campaign launched in 2009 with a $10,000 TV schedule targeting woman 35 to 54. Recent grant funding and vendor investment have substantially augmented the organizations’ marketing programs and impact. In just two years, funds raised from three USDA Specialty Crop Block Grants, a Maine Department of Agriculture Development Grant, IGCME members and vendor marketing dollars have added up to $346,000 and helped support the launch and expansion of Plant Something! Plant Maine! with a fully integrated advertising and promotion campaign.

Plant Something! Plant Maine!

Plant Something! Plant Maine! is a national marketing program designed to get more people to enjoy gardening and support their local nurseries, garden centers, landscapers and growers. By focusing on key themes of “plant for better health (nutrition and physical activity), economic value, the environment and your local community,” the program is steadily building an online and on-the-ground presence and community for all things related to planting and landscaping in Maine.

Activities:

    • Specially created TV ads, point-of-sale, a new website (plantsomethingmaine.org), email, digital and social marketing campaigns and special promotions including a spring Plant Something! Plant Maine! Weekend are all designed to drive consumers to engage with and ultimately purchase products and services from local nurseries and landscapers.
    • Plant Something! Plant Maine! has 785 Instagram followers and 3249 Facebook fans which ranks Maine 2nd in the nationwide Plant Something program. There are also 1,011 in our public Facebook group.
    • In the past 8 months, visits to plantsomethingmaine.org averaged 2000 per month and our E-News list has grown by a factor of 5 to 3,752 subscribers.
    • Plant Something! Plant Maine! themed PR, TV, radio, print, digital and social media attracted over 36,000 visitors to the first two years of the Maine Flower Show (owned and produced by MELNA) which far exceeded projections.
    • New activities planned for 2018 include a statewide PR and media relations campaign, social media training for our members, a Plant Something! Plant Maine! Weekend and collaboration with organizations such as Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the Maine Farm Bureau and Maine Agriculture in the Classroom which will help us reach new audiences and achieve our goal of another 5% increase in sales and jobs.S

Sales and Jobs Growth:
According to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Maine’s horticultural sales increased 43.6% from 2009 to 2014. This is nearly 2.5 times the national average of 18% in that same period. In 2016 with the Plant Something Campaign, 15 participating garden centers with sales of $27,208,698 and 458 employees saw 22.34% increase in sales and a job growth rate of 13.1%. In 2017, there was another significant increase of 8% and increase in employment of 12%.

Market Potential:
Maine’s horticultural industry comprises more than 1,000 firms that collectively employ nearly 12,000 people, with 5,000 of them on a full-time basis. With more than $100 million in annual sales of specialty crops, over half of which are grown locally, the plants produced and sold by the horticulture industry of Maine are among the top three specialty crops in the state and are vital to the strength of the state’s natural resource-based economy (NENA, 2009; NASS, 2012).

Join the Campaign!
To learn more about our Plant Something! Plant Maine! campaign and how you can participate as a sponsor or advertiser please visit
plantsomethingmaine.org and contact Jody Dekubber, Broadway Gardens (email: jdekubber@yahoo.com, phone: 207-671-7144) or Mark Sprackland, Executive Director, Independent Retailers Shared Services Cooperative (email: mark@independentretailerscoop.com, phone: 603-706-0868).