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Garden Guru

National advertising

Jim Boxberger
Posted 3/24/23

  Well now it is officially spring and the weather this week was much nicer than what we have experienced in the early part of March. Watching television this past weekend I saw loads of …

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Garden Guru

National advertising


 Well now it is officially spring and the weather this week was much nicer than what we have experienced in the early part of March. Watching television this past weekend I saw loads of commercials for Scotts lawn products. Practically every hour there was another lawn fertilizer commercial which got me thinking about what I wanted to write about this week, National advertising. Scotts-Miracle Gro is by far the largest lawn and garden product company that services the entire United States, which is why they will advertise nationally on television. 

They know that people believe what they watch. Greener lawns if you use Turfbuilder or beautiful flowerbeds if you fertilize with Miracle-Gro, and they are right. These products do fly off the shelf all by themselves when the weather gets nice and people can get outside and get their hands dirty. The advertising produces demand for the product and it doesn’t matter if you buy it at a box store or the mom and pop store, the product is all the same. But advertising costs a lot of money and Scotts-Miracle Gro spends tens of millions of dollars every year on national advertising. To spend that much money, their products must be great, well they’re not. That is why they need to spend all that money to create demand for their products. Yes, the products do what they are suppose to do, but there are a lot of other products that do the same thing even better. 

When is the last time you saw a commercial for FoxFarm products or Coast of Maine Soils. How about a radio ad for five-ten-five fertilizer, probably the most used, broad spectrum fertilizer in the world. You might see an ad in a gardening magazine, but television, never. These products sell themselves to educated gardeners that know what they can do, without the national advertising smoke and mirrors. 

So why aren’t products like FoxFarm Microbrew or Coast of Maine Stonington Blend Soil household names? The companies that produce these products spend money researching better product properties instead of spending the money on advertising. They rely on word of mouth advertising and garden center staff to educate the customer as to the benefits of the products. This is why you won’t find these products at the box stores that do not have staff with extensive product knowledge. 

Foxfarm products have been around for over twenty five years, yet even I didn’t quite understand what they did until about ten years ago when my son convinced me to bring the products in after he came home from college and selling these products at a garden center he was working at while at college. Since that time of just buying a few products every other week from one of our suppliers, we are now up to buying a full truckload of product in the early spring to get stocked up so that we don’t run out when the time is right for getting in the garden. 

We educated our customers to the benefits of the products and after they tried them, they were hooked by the results they got, no national advertising needed. Remember the blind taste test between Coke and Pepsi back in the 80’s and 90’s, we did that with Miracle Gro and Foxfarm products back when we first started carrying Foxfarm. We planted up two identical flower boxes, one fertilized with Miracle Gro once a week and one fertilized with Foxfarm products. By the third week of the test the Foxfarm flower box was almost double the size of the Miracle Gro box and it had three times the flowers as well. That was ten years ago and although we don’t sell a lot of it, we still carry Miracle Gro because the national advertising does work, and we have customers come in and blindly buy it every week in the spring. Then, of course, there are the customers that have always used Miracle Gro and are reluctant to try anything new, the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality. 

But as plant science continues to evolve, these newer products will slowly start finding their way into your homes as the proof is in the pudding. Who wants an Iphone 5 when you can get the new Iphone 14 for about the same price as the Iphone 5 back in 2012.


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