Scotts freshens up to reach new green thumbs

The lawncare brand goes into market early to capitalize on unprecedented interest in gardening (yes, even in winter).

Winter isn’t a time of year many people associate with lawns and gardens, but Scotts Miracle-Gro Canada is seeing a lot of things come up roses.

When reporting its most recent quarterly earnings in early February, CEO Jim Hagedorn said posting a profit in both Q4 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021 was unprecedented for the company, which usually anticipates a loss during the off-season. He added that Scotts is increasing its marketing investment with a “simple, yet aggressive goal in mind to retain the millions of consumers who entered or reentered the lawn and garden category last season.”

“It’s actually a really great time to be in this business,” says Glenn Martin, the company’s director of marketing in Canada. “Across North America, we had a record year and we are seeing a massive uptick in people participating in the category, whether it’s working on their lawns, starting a garden, or expanding the areas they already had gardens.”

To capitalize on the heightened interest and accommodate an unusual pandemic growing season – which Martin says includes people stuck at home noticing more plant pests than they otherwise would have – Scotts has debuted a new campaign earlier in the year than it typically does. This week, it worked with creative agency Rethink to create and give away a limited edition “Lawndry Detergent” that smells of fresh-cut grass to 115 people who engage with it via Instagram before March 14.

This campaign is really about consumer engagement, Martin admits, by tapping into the passions of green thumbs. He maintains that the new detergent is not some kind of April Fool’s joke, and that Scotts did a lot of work with partner Toronto natural soap brand, The Soapworks, to hone in on a cut-grass smell that’s so important to people, and reminiscent of the season and the first cut of the year is a way to define the end of the winter.

Even though this isn’t the season for lawn care, the hope is that it will keep the brand top of mind when the warm weather does arrive. And, in the meantime, Martin says there has been a big spike in demand for indoor plant products and pest control, in addition to outdoor products.

In the upcoming months, Martin says Scotts will be reaching out again on broader platforms, specifically to new gardeners and those unfamiliar with the brand, without alienating its core base. In particular, it is seeing opportunity with those who may not have spent time on their gardens prior to pandemic, as well as first time home buyers that have their own garden or lawn for the first time.

As of late, Martin says Scotts’ brand positioning has also evolved to be a bit more tongue in cheek to appeal to a younger audience instead of the voice of expertise tone a category leader might be expected to take (and one the company previously leaned into more).

For the “Lawndry Detergent” campaign, Scotts also worked with media agency Wavemaker, with MSL leading community management.