The vice president of marketing at Coast of Maine highlights the support and marketing resources that help IGCs increase sales.

FIVE QUESTIONS with CAMERON BONSEY  Article By Kate Spirgen 

How can Coast of Maine products help IGC customers succeed? 

We’ve been producing compost-based bag soils since 1996 and have developed a complete line of products for virtually every growing need. If somebody is growing organically, the products were developed to enhance soil biology to feed plants properly. 

We also have instructional videos on our YouTube channel, and people contact us all the time. So, we’re always helping people with their gardening needs. 

But the other piece that’s really important is the training we do with garden centers. We have sales staff in each territory and right now they’re helping train garden center employees to understand how to choose the right soil for their customer’s needs. 

So, we help customers succeed by providing products for organic growing and giving them the ability to access us and learn more about how our products can support their growing needs, as well as having garden center employees trained on our products. 

Are you anticipating increased demand for organic growing products this spring? 

Absolutely. When everybody went through COVID, they had more time to do their research and have a positive experience with gardening. Not only did people go online and look at how to grow organically, but then they had success doing so. 

There’s a shift away from just fertilizers toward enhancing living soil to feed the plants along with regenerative farming for a healthy planet. People better understand now that you’re feeding the soil and the soil feeds the plant. You’re not just feeding the plant. 

How can Coast of Maine branding help garden centers sell organic products? 

Our bags are the most beautiful bags on the market. So even if somebody doesn’t recognize our brand, when they walk into a garden center, their attention usually turns to our products and they’ll ask for it. But we also have a well-established and well-recognized brand that will bring shoppers into garden centers looking for our soils. 

We support buying local at garden centers with targeted social media. We’ve increased our brand’s social media and digital marketing and we also help garden centers with their own social media. And then on top of that, we’re doing more radio and podcasts. So, we’re investing more in marketing Coast of Maine and we’re driving traffic to the independent garden centers. Our messaging is always: Buy local, buy local, buy local. We want to further strengthen that relationship between the community and the garden center.

What makes Coast of Maine products stand out from other growing materials?  

I think the biggest difference is that we use pre-consumer organic residuals, and we use a lot of ocean byproducts. We understand where everything has come from that’s going in that bag. When we do our own composting with high standards and strict SOPs, you can be very confident that what’s in that bag is not only going to be great for your plants, it’s going be great for your family and great for the earth. 

What kind of support does Coast of Maine offer retailers? 

We started out with a YouTube channel and we’ve shot more than a thousand videos about garden centers over the years. We not only do testimonials for Coast of Maine products, we do testimonials with customers that are at the garden centers, asking them why they shopped at that garden center, and then we give those videos to the garden center so they can promote themselves. 

We want to be able to share the story of the independent garden centers and why people shop there. Every garden center is different. Everyone is set up differently; everyone has different strengths, different storefronts, different abilities to market themselves. So, we want to tell that garden center story along with the Coast of Maine story. Together we help support fruitful gardeners and gardening.