Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the nursery marketing levy into a range of activities to drive awareness and support the use of Australian nursery products, under the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund.
PLANT LIFE BALANCE
The Plant Life Balance campaign is designed to get more Australians buying more green life for their homes, both indoors and out. It’s the lead consumer program for the nursery industry, and 2018/19 marked its second full year.
Plant Life Balance combines fashion and styling for homes with science that focuses on the two fundamental benefits of including more plants in the home environment: air quality and wellbeing. The campaign uses digital tools and social media to connect with a target audience of women aged between 25 to 35, to help build their confidence and inspire them to get more ‘plant life balance’ in their lives.
The Plant Life Balance audience is a new wave of plant lovers. Young, female, renters or first home owners with busy lives and possibly first time or soon to be parents. They are digitally connected, socially savvy and fashion conscious.
They are experienced at keeping their plants alive and what’s more, they are emotionally attached to their plants, which is excellent for industry.
The Plant Life Balance app
The award-winning app is a ‘try before you buy’ experience, backed by research from the Nursery Fund R&D program. The app allows users to take a photo of their space, rate the health of it, and see what plants will look good (and how they can improve the health rating of the space). Since its inception, the app has been downloaded more than 57,400 times. During May 2019 alone, there were 858 downloads. The app can be downloaded via the App Store or Google Play, with more information at www.plantlifebalance.com.au/the-app.
Social and digital promotion
The primary objective of the Plant Life Balance social media campaign was to drive engagement and promote traffic to the Plant Life Balance website (www.plantlifebalance.com.au). Strong results were seen across both Facebook (www.facebook.com/plantlifebalance) and Instagram (@myplantlifebalance) channels, with content performing more than eight per cent higher than the median benchmark. Organic community growth has occurred as a result. Facebook continues to drive strong referrals to the website, indicating the success of paid media on this platform in particular.
The Plant Life Balance blog (www.myplantlifebalance.com.au) and the e-newsletter consumers can sign up to through the site continued to drive engagement and delivered strong growth in subscribers during 2018/19. Towards the end of May 2019, and following the launch of inspiring new plant ‘looks’, blog user sessions more than doubled. The highest engagement figures were from how-to guides and style-centric blog posts, demonstrating that the target audience has interest in a mix of both informative and fun content.
At the time of writing, there were more than 3500 subscribers to the e-newsletter. An example of a popular story featured was a guide to composting featuring practical tips and tricks and links to interesting Instagram accounts for inspiration. The headline ‘Quick n’ dirty guide’ assisted with
this engagement, as often people are seeking simple, easily digestible content. While style-centric content remains of interest, a core strategic direction for content in 2019/20 is to continue including more practical content for green life care.
Plant Life Balance Places series
The ‘Plant Life Balance Places’ event series in 2018/19 attached the brand to existing ‘greening movement’ events in order to help the campaign grow and extend its reach. This involved mapping out cafés, restaurants, bars, shops, centres and offices that incorporate green life, and then creating content and events to inspire the Plant Life Balance community. This activation was a major component of the 2018/19 campaign and established Plant Life Balance as being relevant beyond the home.
A series of ‘Plant Tales’ events were held, aimed at millennials, influencers and plant enthusiasts, with attendance exceeding expectations (100 attendees in Sydney in December 2018; 110 attendees in Melbourne in February 2019; and 75 attendees in Brisbane in May 2019).
The events in Sydney and Melbourne consisted of panel discussions and presentations, whereas the Brisbane event trialled an interactive workshop format on macramé making (to create a holder for hanging potted plants), re-potting plants and plant care tips specific to the Queensland climate.
The workshop format was a success, showcasing how audiences want to learn as much about plant care as well as new ideas as possible. Each event was themed and incorporated plant-based drinks and menus, and was hosted by a green lifestyle or culture influencer.
Working with stakeholders
The 2020 Vision is another key component of the nursery marketing program, and is primarily about engaging with government and green space practitioners to support the increase of urban green space. Considering that – based on past research and estimates – the average value of an urban forest strategy is around $250,000 per local government area, per year in street trees alone, there is a significant opportunity here for the nursery industry.
During 2018/19, the program maintained ongoing conversations and relationships with 202020 Vision partners and the target audience, made up of green space practitioners, government representatives, consultants, urban planners and landscape architects.
This included activities, supported where relevant by the Nursery Fund R&D program, such as:
- Monthly e-newsletters socialising good news stories, recent research and green life updates, projects, partnerships and related events
- Managing enquiries and user-generated content submissions to the 202020 Vision website
- Liaising with government agencies to provide information and support for any nursery-related initiatives they were working on or considering.
202020 Vision rebrand
In 2018/19, the 2020 Vision campaign was coming to the end of its named lifecycle, so preparation commenced with key stakeholders to identify a new name, and to develop a transition approach for the industry. ‘Green spaces, Better places’ was selected as the winner and new brand materials, including new messaging guidelines, were developed and set to be launched along with a new website in late 2019.
A comprehensive strategy was also developed to manage and explain the change to all stakeholders, with a campaign planned to launch the new program brand in 2019/20.
The 2018/19 nursery marketing program supported the creation and extension of a number of ‘kits’ to help key stakeholders engage with content and promote its reach.
Industry event kit
To amplify activity and drive greater uptake of the 202020 Vision and Plant Life Balance programs across the nursery industry, a transportable Plant Life Balance display kit was developed. Industry from each state were invited to apply to have the kit sent to them for a period of time to assist in engaging and training industry networks about the programs.
Some 200 sets of printed material were supplied to nursery retailers to promote the Plant Life Balance campaign in stores. This retailer kit included Plant Life Balance branded bunting, signage displaying the ‘looks’ from the app, plant tags and weather proof pocket books explaining the ‘simple science’ (see p9 for more). Digital assets including social media graphics, social media ‘how-to’s’, logos and printable artwork were also developed and distributed to retailers to further encourage them.
The Press Office
The Press Office is an ongoing support function engaged by the nursery marketing program, which provides media monitoring and reactive media management. It also covers proactive media outreach developing a monthly content calendar and minor issues and crisis management. Key events throughout the year are featured in the program calendar and promoted via the Press Office. Management of an advocate program is also run via the Press Office, which you can learn more about at www.202020vision.com.au/advocates.
These marketing activities are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Nursery Fund