The dusty houseplant is about to get an extreme makeover.
This spring, an industry initiative is promoting leafy plants as environmental remedies for ailing homes and offices. Retailers may want to tap into this ecological theme by changing the way they merchandise their own flora. There's nothing exotic required; the peace lilies and spider plants found in today's supermarket displays will do just fine, according to industry representatives.
“They've been getting the right plants in their stores. It's just a matter of putting the environmental label on them,” said Denise Godfrey, a board member of Plants at Work, an informational, office-focused campaign created in 1998 by the foliage industry. The at-home component was publicized just last year.
The goal of the program is to move consumers beyond the idea of plants as commodity decor, and on to the concept of them as indoor air scrubbers and a source of health, creativity and well-being. Point-of purchase materials are available through Plants at Work, as are tags that can be customized and inserted in the pots.
“Green plants penetrate only 56% of households, and most of that is bedding plants, with foliage plants accounting for less than one in five homes,” Godfrey said. “There is still much room for growth.”
Green plants are believed to improve air interaction, which was significantly curtailed when the energy crisis of the 1970s compelled people to stuff their homes with insulation and tightly seal window and door cracks. Carpets and furniture increasingly use more adhesive and glue, adding to the indoor air problem by releasing chemical fumes.
Some retailers are doing their own thing. One independent chain on the West Coast is just wrapping up a successful program that tied individual plants to specific rooms.
“They're suggesting low-light plants for the bedroom, and high-humidity plants like ferns for the bathroom,” said Marta Moreno of Rose Gonzales Plants, a Vista, Calif.-based packer/shipper.
Even if supermarkets don't market the plants as air purifiers, Godfrey said they're still good to have around the store.
“You'll give your customers a nice environment to shop in, and you'll be able to cut down on pollutants in the store.”