“‘Digital’ is a Life Attitude” – AIPH World Ornamental Horticulture Summit

Horticulture’s future in a digital world was the topic of discussion at the second AIPH World Ornamental Horticulture Summit, held on 28th September at Expo Floriade 2022 in Almere, the Netherlands.

“‘Digital’ is a life attitude,” said keynote speaker Domingo Iudice. “You have to adapt quickly and surf all the opportunities available. It’s painful, but it works.”

Domingo founded digital marketing agency Brainpull, based in Italy, in 2012. Today, the company has 80 members of staff in Puglia, Milan and the US. In his presentation, he used examples from his own career to illustrate the immense benefit of using digital tools to reach potential customers.

“Digital squares change rapidly, but they always offer great opportunities. They are the largest meeting places in the world and influence customer purchases. Digital tools allow businesses to gain feedback, control processes and connect with people.”

Domingo highlighted that with the standard B2B2C structure, producers have no relationship with their end consumer. Using digital tools, producers can establish a relationship with the consumer, gain feedback, and make better decisions for the future.

Attendees also heard from Justin Hancock, Senior Brand Marketing Manager for Costa Farms. He explained how and why Costa Farms is utilising digital tools. “The current consumer might not be using digital, but tomorrow’s consumer is,” he said. “We have to get in front of them.”

“More and more consumers are spending more and more time on social media. You don’t want to make consumers come to you, you need to get to where they are. Social media also lets you build a relationship with your consumers.”

Justin also highlighted the value of collecting data from online sources. This may be from direct feedback by a consumer, but there is an equally valuable source of data that can be taken from social media. Digital platforms allow producers to find what is trending and how people are engaging with products, giving companies insight into their customers’ needs.

According to a 2022 Shopify report, 61% of consumers trust influencer recommendations. One such influencer is Darryl Cheng, creator of the House Plant Journal and author of ‘The New Plant Parent’. Darryl presented a different perspective on communicating with consumers via social media. He explained his own approach of creating interesting and engaging content. By providing impactful tips and tricks, he enables his followers to have greater success with their houseplants, hence building a positive relationship with the producer who supplied the plant. Darryl therefore provides a valuable connection between the producer and the consumer.

Attendees also heard from Michael Perry, better known as Mr Plant Geek. With a background as a Product Developer for Thompson Morgan in the UK before switching to his garden personality career, Michael has a unique view of the industry from both the inside and outside. He offered insight into the ever growing list of social media platforms and how each of them are used in their unique ways. He commented that not every platform is suitable for every business, saying: “Choose the platform that is right for you, and don’t do it because you feel forced to.”

Commenting on the summit, AIPH Secretary General, Tim Briercliffe said “This summit brought together businesses and organisations from across the globe so that together we can prepare for a changing digital world. It was clear that the opportunities are huge and there are great examples of companies taking them but there is also the danger of being left behind and it was so valuable to get an insight into how we will need to relate to the consumer of the future.”

Other speakers were:

  • Dr. Tosca Ferber, Research Director at Dümmen Orange, the Netherlands
  • Valerio Perego, Head of Sales at Meta, Italy
  • Steven van Schilfgaarde, CEO of Royal FloraHolland, the Netherlands
  • Jan van Dam, CEO of Dutch Flower Group, the Netherlands
  • Abe van Wingerden, Co-CEO of Metrolina Greenhouses, USA
  • Pablo Bazzani, Sales and Marketing Director, Plazoleta Flowers, Colombia, and winner of the Young International Grower of the Year 2022
  • Marco van der Sar, Chairman of the Flower Council, the Netherlands
  • Phil Paxton, President of Wheatland Trees Ltd, Canada
  • Sirekit Mol, Head Of Commercial Operations for Beekenkamp Plants BV, the Netherlands

For those unable to attend AIPH will be making many of the sessions available from its website.

Thank you to Headline Sponsor Pera Event, Gold Sponsor Royal FloraHolland, Bronze Sponsors Dutch Flower Group and GreenTech, and Event Partners CIOPORA, the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC), the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative, Union Fleurs and Florint for their support of this event.

International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH)

Since 1948, AIPH has united horticultural producers in an international community that thrives to this day. Much has changed in that time. Technologies advanced, cities rose from the ground, and we have become more connected than ever. As a result, our essential bond with nature has been weakened. AIPH strives to reignite and uphold an appreciation of plants that we believe is a basic human instinct. We support the work of grower associations globally. Together, we champion a prosperous industry, growing plants that enhance lives, advance societies, and sustain our planet for this generation and the next.