Trends, Trends Everywhere By Jessica DeGraaf

How to simply and effectively find and capitalize on key trends.

It seems that every year in our industry from California Spring Trials to Cultivate to TPIE and IPM Essen, we begin to see and hear about all of the trends that are coming and how we need to be incorporating them into our product assortment. We receive information on the hottest colors, plant types, container styles and so much more. At times there are so many trends that they begin to pile up like dirty laundry. And, like laundry, sometimes it’s hard to find the two to three ideas that you can apply to your business that will provide the returns that you need to justify movement into a specific category.

So let’s talk about how to simply and effectively find and capitalize on key trends. Just because a trend emerges doesn’t mean that we have to follow the curve. Often the best trends are those in which you can execute well and more importantly, that your customers can sell! We’ll focus heavily upon trends emerging from the design world, and then discuss a few ways you can incorporate these into your product assortment and packaging for the upcoming season.

Design Trends

You can’t even begin this conversation without first looking to Pinterest. Each and every year, the Pinsights team at Pinterest creates a Top 100 board that is released in December. This board is based on top trends in key categories that show considerable increase (over 500,000) in search and pin saves. While not all of these trends pertain directly to our industry, it does give us a good gauge of what consumers are gravitating toward and the broader picture of what retailers are seeing at their stores.

• Vines Anyone?

Many of us will agree that succulents and miniature gardens have allowed us to reach a completely different consumer, many of which used these plants as a starting point into horticulture. This trend was fueled in large part to the plethora of ideas and projects on Pinterest.

The past two years have seen a huge influx in the use of houseplants on this platform; think fiddle leaf fig, staghorn fern and orchids. But, based on search criteria on Pinterest, the next hottest houseplant category will be climbing vines. There has been more than a 200 percent increase in searches for this category. Lush greenery and inviting spaces are the new norm and consumers are looking for these products. To capitalize on this, pair vines with unique containers or macramé, and it’s an instant hit! Note that you don’t have to limit this category to strictly indoor foliage. This can easily transition outdoor containers for the patio as well. Think clematis, thunbergia and many more options.

• Packaging and the Prevalence of Copper Accents

We know that the package is just as, if not more, important than the plant. For those of you that keep a watchful eye on container and fixture colors, there has been a steady move away from silver to rose gold and now on to copper. Copper color containers, especially for potted plants, will be extremely popular. We are seeing movement towards this tone for outdoor containers as well. If you are producing and selling potted plants or indoor foliage, be sure to utilize copper. As a side note, geometric shapes are also very popular, especially in copper tones.

If you are looking for additional container color suggestions, look no further than the 2017 Pantone Spring Color Report. This report includes Greenery, the 2017 color of the year, but also includes many corresponding colors that consumers will be looking for.

• Naturescaping

The newest buzzword that we are hearing is Naturescaping. We know consumers want beautiful patios and landscapes, but they have to be easy to maintain and also inviting for birds and pollinators. In conversations with many retailers, there is a great opportunity to sell native plants or those that attract birds and pollinators. Consumers are specifically asking for plants that fit these categories. Instead of selling individual varieties, look at ways to package a program around key plant varieties that you are currently selling and fit these niches.

From Trends to Implementation

John Naisbitt said it best, “Trends, like horses, are easier to ride in the direction they are going.” So, how best to harness these trends and move forward? I’d propose that the simplest method is to set up a focus group of your key retail customers. Talk with them about the trends they are seeing and more importantly, the questions their customers are asking them. From this, select the one or two ideas or trends that you can execute and create programs around these.

Jessica DeGraaf

Jessica DeGraaf is retail account manager for Proven Winners and a member of GPN’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2012. She can be reached at