Mission: Convince consumers plants are not luxuries (Editorial)

Charlie Hall, holder of the Ellison Chair at Texas A&M, offered up some unusual indicators that the economy is improving in Episode 3 of Charlie’s Angle via the ANLA Knowledge Center at One was the lipstick index, a correlation of increasing lipstick sales with an improving economy. Actually, the term lipstick index was coined by Leonard Lauder, chairman of the board of Estee Lauder, who claimed the purchases of cosmetics were inversely correlated to economic health. But Hall is more accurate. Only this time around, he said, the index is nail polish sales. (So order some garden gloves to protect those nails!)
Then there’s the boxer-or-brief index. “People don’t replace undergarments in a poor economy,” Hall said. There’s also a hemline index that goes up or down with the stock market, he noted.
There are some more accepted signs that things are improving. More people are seeking dental services than last year. Hotel occupancy is up. Auto sales are up. Restaurant sales are up. Freight volumes are up; in fact, we recently broke the record set in 2005. Why does freight volume matter? When people buy stuff, it’s got to get to us.
Lastly, home improvements are on the rise, and that includes landscaping.
So, with the mild weather we had until the very end of March, the green industry is poised for a great spring. It all depends, Hall said, on whether people are going to turn loose of their cold, hard cash and spend it on flowers, shrubs and trees.
With the price of gasoline, they’ll be staying home more. Might as well fix up the lawn, garden and patio and enjoy them!
Hall said we have to convince consumers by “enhancing our value proposition” — by making it known that these products and services are not mere luxuries, but necessities. The industry is already promoting those attitudes. Are you doing your part?
Elsewhere, Hall is quoted saying the younger generation is “embracing a connection with plants based on economics, environmental impact, health and wellness.” They are planting home and community gardens and renewing urban spaces.
Susan McCoy, trendspotter and outdoor living expert, said, “Plants are no longer a luxury, but a necessity for our lives. Plants can live without us, but we can’t live without plants.”
Now if we could just get everyone to see things that way...