Four ways Proven Winners supports growers

When the Proven Winners brand debuted in 1992, its goal was to serve professional growers by developing and propagating innovative, superior plants. The next steps included the two other vital links — programs and products for garden retailers, and extensive consumer marketing to create demand for the brand.

The last 26 years have seen many new plant introductions, expanded programs for both growers and retailers and substantial investment to create an iconic brand familiar to millions of home gardeners throughout the U.S. and Canada. But the heart of these efforts is the constant goal of serving growers. This starts with bringing the best plants available to market.

The work and innovation in genetics has never stopped at Proven Winners. “We are constantly innovating through our global breeder network to pick the best of the best,” says Curt Varsogea, Sales Manager at Four Star Greenhouse. “We can pick from multiple breeders to find the best colors and best producers.”

Several successful and popular genera have been introduced through Proven Winners’ process of working with breeders. Bacopa, Nemesia, Lobularia, Euphorbia and Verbena are just some of them.

The “proven” in Proven Winners is a comprehensive selection process that includes several years of trialing in multiple locations, testing for production, market analyses and perfecting the shipping and delivery. Once a new prospect is found, it becomes a plant under consideration for trialing in a variety of conditions, locations and containers.

The trialing team evaluates each new plant for disease resistance, color, vigor, branching, flowering, tolerance to heat and drought and its ability to be grown in commercial growing environments.

Each yearly group of prospective plants is narrowed down from more than 2,500 to around 50 or less, before final production trials are done.

The selection process also covers Proven Selections varieties — those that are not exclusive to the Proven Winners network, but boast strong regional performance, and complement the Proven Winners annuals, perennials and shrub lines.

Making great plants better
“Some of the most exciting work we’ve done lately are the improvements of existing varieties,” notes Varsogea. “We take some of our best plants and look for ways to make them even better.”

The Proven Winners trialing team develops standards of characteristics they would like to see in certain varieties, with the goal of improving already good plants so that both growers and gardeners can be even more successful.

Garden performance drives this effort. “We’ll only introduce or improve plants that perform well for growers and that will help consumers succeed at gardening,” he says. “When home gardeners can get great plants with proven garden performance, the opportunity for them to be successful increases, and successful gardeners become repeat Proven Winners customers.”

The goal, he notes, is for everyone to be successful. “What good does selling an inferior plant do for your business, our industry or the customer if it doesn’t perform well? How will this help you get repeat business year to year? Wouldn’t it be better to sell plants that help your customers be successful?”

Sharing data with growers
Choosing what plants to grow for a given season can be tricky, so the team is creating regional and state guides for growers showing what Proven Winners is doing in their area and highlighting plants local gardeners are buying.

Proven Winners has created the guide “Top 10 Plants for Your Region” showing best-selling plants within U.S. and Canada zones – find it here.

The new state marketing sheets offer even more detailed information and will be available to growers and brokers. They will help growers learn about specific advertisements on radio, billboards, magazines and more in their areas, and will also feature:
  • web traffic in the state
  • award winning plants from the area
  • the number of Gardener's Idea Books mailed locally
  • Proven Winners Certified retailers participating
  • highlighted plants featured for the area
  • top-selling plants in that state
Proven Winners website received nearly 12 million page views last year and is a popular way for consumers to find and buy the plants online. “We know the demand for Proven Winners plants is there because home gardeners look for them and buy plants online when they cannot find them in their local garden centers. We also know they are willing to pay as much as — or more than double — the typical retail price for a Supertunia Vista Bubblegum in a Grande branded container,” says Varsogea.

“Proven Winners can map where consumers who requested the Gardener’s Idea Book online are located,” he adds. “I can show growers a map where these potential customers are. Consumers want to find Proven Winners in the store.”

White Branded Containers: Built-in POP
“This is a brand like no other,” Varsogea explains. “Just with the consumer recognition alone, it stands out. Add to that its extensive work to introduce superior plants, and it stands out more.”

Thanks to all the marketing efforts of the last 26 years, Proven Winners has become the leading plant brand. Since 1992, Proven Winners has reached out to home gardeners through numerous means: Co-op radio advertising, magazines, television, billboards, event sponsorships, internet, social media and more. The partnership with Garden Answer’s Laura LeBoutillier is resulting in wide exposure of Proven Winners plants and ideas to young gardeners via YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. The videos alone have more than 400 million views.

Proven Winners high brand recognition continues to bring customers into many garden retail stores, and the white Proven Winners branded containers guide those customers right to the product on the bench.

Varsogea notes, “I look at the white branded container as the best form of POP there is. Consumers look for these in the store. Given all the success Proven Winners has had in building brand recognition for consumers, I think it’s a smart grower who leverages that investment by planting in those eye-catching branded containers,” he adds.

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