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Horticulture: How to create Value with Plant Branding

Horticulture & Marketing:
Create Value with Plant Branding

Growers in The Netherlands take pride on the quality of their produce. Yet, growers face a deep economic crisis. This article highlights some creative ways to make more value with your product, to find your niche.

Use a Trade Name

Add your own trade name to the general cultivar name. Use a trade name to target different markets and to diversify price levels.

Examples: Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Mak20’ is sold under two trade names: H. macr. Blueberry Cheesecake (blue flowers) and H. macr. Cotton Candy (pink flowers). Likewise, you could use different brand names for Hydrangea as a cutflower and Hydrangea as a dryflower. Rosa ‘Korbin’ is sold in different countries under different trade names: Iceberg (United Kingdom), Schneewittchen (Germany) and Fée de neiges (France).

You need to officially register a tradename to disallow others to use the same name. In practise different companies can sell the same plant under different trade names.

Tip: For extra exposure, write your series name in capital letters. If you are an independant plant breeder, you could incorporate your initials in the trade name.

Use a Series Name

You can use a trade name to designate a plant series. A series is a collection of cultivars that share one feature (growth habit or application), but differ in another feature (flower colour).

In practise plant breeders use series for plants belonging to the same genus. However, series can equally well be used by growers associations to designate a selection of plants for their style (i.e. Japanese), preparation (10-minute cooking time) or otherwise.

A series name enables new cultivars to ride a piggyback on the reputation of your preceding, established cultivars. Especially handy if individueal cultivars have a short life span, as is the case for a lot of seed propagated perennials.

A series is often used for perennials in a range of flower colours that share a similar growth habit. For a commercial growers plants of the same series are easy to grow next to each other. For garden architects plants of a series are easy to combine or replace mutually.

For marketing reasons, to emphasize the name of a Series it is sometimes written in capital letters.

Example: Kieft Seeds developed a range of pink-, red-, purple- and yellow-flowered Celosia cultivars for the cutflower industry under the series name Bombay.

Use Cultivar Groups

Why you would want to use cultivar groups? Because it meets the needs of your end users. And it may help you to keep a clear focus on your breeding program.

When you segment your assortment into practical categories, end users (garden architects, consumers) can find more easily what they are looking for, and therefore will be more likely to add your product to their wish list. Cultivar groups are especially worthwhile as a marketing tool for ornamental plants (cutflowers, perennials, woody plants, bulbs), if there are many cultivars to choose from.

From a plant breeders point of view using cultivar groups can also be favourable. It helps you to keep focus on breeding goals, especially when crosses become more complex, i.e. hybrids have evolved from multiple species and/or back-crosses.

Example categories: Pink Flowering Group, Early Flowering Group, Cup Shaped Flower Group, Dwarf Group, Variegated Group, Linearilobum Group, Yakushimanum Group.

Use a Grex Name

Relevant to orchids only!

A grex is an offspring resulting from the crossing of two individual plants or clones (the grex parents). By using a grex name you emphasize your breeding efforts and high standards of your breeding material. Moreover, if you are the very first person to create an interspecific or intergeneric hybrid and you register it as a grex, science will adopt your grex name in future publications, increasing your value as an authority.

Paphiopedilum Sedenii grex (= P. schlimii x P. longifolium )
Phragmipedium Maudiae Purple grex (offspring of two specific selected parent plants; fictional)

Note: The addition “grex” is often omitted in commercial trade.

Omit the cultivar name? Think twice!

Are you wondering if you can replace a cultivar name by any of the other names? Well, you could, but you probably don’t want to. Here’s why:

In practise in the trade the cultivar name is sometimes completely omitted and only a brand name is mentioned on a label. Though this might seem clever, it also has a major drawback. In contrast to a cultivar name a trade name (brand name) does not offer plant breeders’ protection. Violation of plant breeders’ rights becomes difficult to prove, because different cultivars may be traded under the same trade name and Plant Variety Offices do not register trade names. (Maybe they should do so?)

Questions about terminology?
Just type it in the search box of this page, or google for “ISHS, ICNCP” to find a .PDF named Scripta Horticulturae.

Anxious to register a trade name?
Just visit the website of a registration office, such as BOIP in The Hague.

Interested in a creative session to brainstorm ideas for your product at your location? (You can use this event as a part of teambuilding with your personnel.) Contact me!
This article was written after visiting one or more related meetings. Thought it might be useful to you.

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