Miracle Gro is a brand that has turned everyday run of the mill garden fertilizer into something special, a gardener’s little secret and ultimately an enormously powerful brand with many line extensions.
Miracle Gro, with lots of money, now realizes it’s central problem is NOT market share but increasing a waning interest in gardening among the next generation of home owners by making it interesting and cool – this is the sort of Category Captain mindset we talk about with our clients.
A brand with the courage to pursue category growth is more appealing to their trade partners, is thinking more long-term and ultimately can win bigger. Of course, there are limitations – some categories are mature or in decline – mens suits, desktop computers, margarine, phone calling cards, etc – and in those cases you are probably limited to taking share away and not overspending. The Mens Warehouse, and to some degree the fashion industry, kept trying to convince men they really wanted to wear suits and ties again – that may have been too little too late.
But, even in mature categories there are ways to reinvent consumer perception of what is acceptable pricing and to create fresh demand. Vodka was reinvented and made elite through brands like Grey Goose and Belvedere. Frozen Pizza discovered new life through DiGiorno. Wonderful has made Pistachios something new, branded and well…wonderful. Axe, made soap interesting to younger males. Gillette has continued to use technology to drive growth in a very finite shaving category. The ONE who seizes the Category Captain role gets to be the “Kleenex” and the ROI is paid out over a blossoming category and longer time frame.
My friend who owns a large nursery outside of Chicago tells me that he sells almost nothing other than pre-built container gardens to homeowners under 40 and that this is a relatively new phenomenon he has seen emerge in the last 5 years. Even older, empty nest consumers are increasingly abandoning big homes and big gardens for simple to maintain patio homes, townhouses, etc. Hmmm, sounds like the baking aisle problem of 20 years ago.
Miracle Gro’s pro gardening campaign is paying off by getting new customers to the retail shelf and then winning on it’s tremendous brand awareness. You can read more in-depth about the campaign here: