Costa Farms, the largest horticultural grower in North America, is shifting its communication strategy to an increased focus on indoor and outdoor gardeners. As a part of this strategy, the company has launched a branding effort and consumer marketing campaign and is doubling down on efforts to educate and engage with the end consumer.
This shift in strategy is repositioning the company from its current role as a leading wholesale grower of houseplants, tropicals, annuals, and perennials to a beloved consumer plant brand. Costa Farms’ growth—from 30 acres to over 5,000—over the last 60 years has allowed it to build a structure that allows it to directly meet the needs of home gardeners across the country. “We’ve been focused on growing plants that meet the needs of retailers by appealing to end consumers,” says Joche Smith, Costa Farms CEO. “With changing demographics and the renewed enthusiasm with gardening—particularly indoor gardening post-COVID-19—we see more consumers than ever want to directly communicate with the team that grew their plants. We’re embracing this opportunity to build relationships with the plant community and putting more effort into connecting with new gardeners.”
Becoming a Brand
Through consumer and competitor research, the Costa Farms team identified key segments of plant parents and prospective plant buyers that have emerged following the pandemic. “The explosion of plant sales during and following the COVID peak drove consumers to reach out to us with plant questions. We dug in, and our research revealed a whole community of underserved plant lovers. It’s our goal to make beautiful, healthy plants attainable to everyone, everywhere, whether they’re a plant enthusiast or have yet to uncover their green thumb,” says Mari Carrasquillo, Costa Farms Senior Director of Marketing “Our new visual brand language reflects this. Costa Farms is more accessible than ever.”
Costa Farms started by launching a direct-to-consumer site, https://shop.costafarms.com. This online plant shop allows consumers to enjoy plants shipped directly from the farm to increase accessibility to everyone. The company’s plants are also available through brick-and-mortar retail channels like Lowe’s, The Home Depot, and Walmart. “Our online plant shop is the perfect opportunity to start building the consumer relationship,” says Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist, “so we’re growing it as a communications platform.” Costa Farms has invested in building its direct-to-consumer business. This includes research and development, proprietary software, and opening an eCommerce facility with the potential to ship up to 30,000 plants per day. “This vertical integration allows us to be better poised to serve the consumer as interest in plants continues to grow,” says Carrasquillo.
Reaching the Consumer
In addition to the website and its social media channels, Costa Farms has developed an educational and experiential platform called Plant Rx. “We’re building Plant Rx to support consumers to successfully grow plants in any environment,” says Hancock. For example, Costa Farms is working to reach indoor and outdoor gardeners in their preferred way, utilizing the social media platform TikTok to produce bite-size growing tips to augment a longer-form podcast hosted by Hancock and an Integrated Pest Management leader. “In everything we do, we think about how we can help people be successful and better enjoy their relationships with their plants,” says Hancock.
To match the excitement and growing demand for plant information, the Costa Farms team is adding sizzle to the launch with an All Thumbs Are Green campaign contest that includes plant prescriptions (one-on-one virtual consultations with Hancock and other Costa Farms Horticulturists) and a year of free plants, including early access to new releases within the buzzworthy Costa Farms Trending Tropicals collection.
“By appealing to the consumer’s appetite for plants, targeting their pain points, and offering innovative solutions, we know plant parents will feel confident joining a brand that’s had their hands in the soil for such a long time,” says Carrasquillo.
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