Scott's Miracle-Gro Amps Up Local Marketing


In a bid to become the "global authority" in lawn and garden care, Scott's Miracle-Gro is focusing on consumers' own backyards, diverting more of its marketing muscle into local, specific efforts.

In a presentation prepared for last week's CL King's West Coast Best Ideas Conference, the company says it leveraged its local consumer insights for more effective marketing. Last year, it says, it prepared just two versions of point-of-purchase materials for its Western region, and this year there will be 17. Displays target both specific climatic zones (such as drought areas) and demographics (such as Hispanic.) In the year ahead, it says it will devote more than half of its ad budget to local efforts, with 49% going to national buys, 23% to spot TV, 10% to radio, 9% to weather-triggered ads, and 4% to digital.

Last year, for example, the company says that within 48 hours of widespread flooding, it created specific marketing messages, including radio, billboards and point-of-sale materials in such markets as Birmingham, Ala. and Atlanta, and stepped up its advertising for fire ant products. (Flooding increases the risk of infestation.)



The company also says that its new EZ Seed product, "a big hit in 2009 even with a limited geographical launch," will be distributed nationally this year "and could more than double sales." Describing it as "our best grass seed innovation in decades," the product addresses the issue of underwatering, the #1 consumer barrier to success.

It also says it sees further potential in the $1 billion wild bird food market, where it currently has less than a 10% share. Its Songbird Selection, sold in five different regional blends, will be rolled out at Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart this year. "Consumers are willing to trade-up for wild bird food that attracts colorful song birds and deters the "pests," it says, and its "Save the songbirds" messaging is resonating with consumers.

It will also test a fertilizing system it says is "goof proof:" The SNAP system is being test-marketed in 2010, with hopes for a national rollout next spring.

The company says it expects annual sales to increase between 4 and 6% through 2014, "aided by the transition to a more consumer-driven operating model."

The company is also expanding its organic offerings, as consumers become increasingly concerned about the toxicity of lawn and garden products. The most recent survey from the National Gardening Association, in conjunction with Scott's, found that while nine out of 10 households believe it's important to maintain their landscapes in a way that benefits the environment, only 53% say they know how to do so. A company spokesman tells Marketing Daily that organic products currently account for less than 5% of sales.

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