DREAMSTIME.COM

The smart phone has amassed colossal marketing power for retailers, brands, products and services. And it could (should) be the key that unlocks a robust, effective way for the green industry to reach millions of consumers.

Some IGCs and big-box stores have been using texts to talk to consumers for a number of years. Texts are somewhat easy to deploy, and they’re certainly easy for the consumer to read. More than 90 percent of people read a text message within the first three minutes of receiving it, according to Mobilesquared, a global mobile research firm based in the UK.

Text message marketing supports and enriches the standard (or not-so-standard) tag found on most plants in the retail setting. Horticultural Marketing & Printing in Dallas has launched Mobile Advantage, a service that allows both growers and retailers to connect with consumers via text messages and mobile sites to ultimately drive more sales.

“The consumer is changing and the industry is changing,” says Jack Davis, VP of sales and marketing for Horticultural Marketing & Printing. “The plant tag was the primary means of communicating with the consumer. But the weakness there is the tag can’t contain all the information the consumer needs to be successful.

“A lantana in Chicago is an annual, where in Dallas it could be a perennial, or in Miami it’s an evergreen shrub. The consumer may not know all of the cultural information. The tag has been a good tool, but with mobile technology, you have all the information you need at your fingertips.”

Davis’ company partnered with Blue Calypso Inc. to deploy the KIOSentrix technology which allows consumers to text short codes (which are located on a plant tag) to a number that is exclusive to the brand, grower, or retailer. The consumer receives a text that allows them to opt in to receive information on plants, for example. It also provides the consumer with a link to a page dedicated to extensive information on that plant — cultural information, planting tips, design ideas, companion plants, etc. Horticultural Marketing & Printing tested the technology this year with Lowe’s stores and Monrovia.

“This mobile technology helps growers develop partnerships with retailers that goes beyond just plants,” Davis says. “It helps the retailer drive overall sales. The success of the grower is dependent on the success of the retailer. And the success of the retailer is dependent on engaging the consumer and getting them to come back and buy more plants.”

In some circumstances, the “text for more information” option was supported by POP so consumers would better understand how to use it and how it could help them make better plant choices.

Retailers can also use this technology to promote tie-in products such as pots, fertilizers or watering wands.

“You can engage the customer, you can target market them, and that’s powerful if you do it the right way. It’s an excellent way to build brands,” Davis says.

In more than 1,100 Lowe’s stores, there were 57,882 mobile engagements from March 1 through May 31 from the short codes, most of which were out of store, creating an opportunity to drive future store visits, Davis says.

This technology obliterates the old QR codes, says Andrew Levi, CEO of Blue Calypso.

“QR code deployment was poor, usage was poor. Only about 6 percent of mobile users had a QR reader on their phone, and they often failed to work in the retail setting,” Levi says. “We’re a data-driven society, we do more research and due diligence before we make a buying decision.”

Read more about how companies like Monrovia and Bailey Nurseries are using text messaging to push their message in the September issue of sibling publication Nursery Management: www.nurserymag.com/article/text-message-marketing