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Speaker: Bridget Behe, Professor of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University

Session Title: The Inside to Understanding Gardening Motivations

Sunday, July 11  9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Description: Recent research funded by HRI and conducted at MSU gives retailers and growers insight into why consumers were buying and enjoying plants. Boredom, food security, social, and educational benefits were among the top reasons why people bought more plants in 2020. Yet the “whys” are also helpful for future sales as these key benefits are the ones that resonate best with a diverse range of customers. This session will reveal who benefitted more from these different motivations and how to use this information in communicating with customers in the coming months. 

Level: Progressive       Type: Business Operations

Session:  Consumer Psychology - Their Perspectives on Pricing, FOMO, Micromarketing and More!

Monday, July 12  3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Description:  This session will delve into the mind of the consumer helping growers, retailers, and other horticultural professionals to understand what motivates consumer decision processes and how to embrace their perspectives in communications. How can their attitudes and perceptions be incorporated into making your marketing communications more effective? You won’t want to suffer from fear of missing out (FOMO) of this session! 

Level: Progressive           Type: Business Operations

Session Title: How to Communicate Your Green Values to Your Consumers

Tuesday, July 13  11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Description:  The industry is doing great things to help create better, sustainability-based companies. However, due to the high-noise level in the media now all of the industry business types - nursery and greenhouse growers, retail garden centers and landscape design build, and more - need to do a better job of telling their story. Impactful companies in the future will develop and communicate their "Green Values" to their neighbors and customers to position themselves as a part of the solution for stronger local communities and economies. This panel discussion will give attendees a list of tips on how to do just that from 4 industry communication professionals. 

Level: Intermediate      Type: Business Operations

Session Speakers:

Clint Albin, Retail Strategist at Landscapehub
Bridget Behe, Professor of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University
Maria Zampini, President at UpShoot, LLC

Session Title: Plant Benefits or Features: Which Cue is More Effective?

Description: ON DEMAND

Better understanding consumer behavior, preferences, and trends is a key HRI research priority. In 2020, Dr. Bridget Behe built upon her previous research that showed younger customers were more likely to purchase a branded plant – even when identical to a non-branded plant – and that consumers in general want more information on signs because they cannot ascertain plant attributes by looking at it. In this session, Dr. Behe will review new research findings from her study looking at which benefits resonate best with which type of consumers. 

This session is part of the Cultivate’21 on-demand package. Access to this package is available through separate purchase. To learn more about how to purchase the Cultivate’21 on-demand education package go to AmericanHort.org/Cultivate/On-demand. 

Level: All Audiences           Type: Research

Bridget Behe 

Professor of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University 

Dr. Bridget Behe (pronounced bee-hee with two long e’s) is currently a Professor of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University. She teaches courses on marketing and management for horticulture majors. Bridget has conducted over 100 consumer and market research projects on horticultural products, both edible and ornamental. She has written more than 500 publications in the trade press and peer-reviewed journals. She joined Michigan State’s faculty in August, 1997, after serving on the faculty at Auburn University (Alabama) for 8 years. Bridget earned degrees from Penn State University (Ph.D. Horticulture, B.S. Horticulture, B.S. Agricultural Education) and The Ohio State University (M.S. Horticulture).  Each year, she speaks to professionals and industry groups nationally and internationally. She writes articles for trade magazines to share the findings of her consumer research studies. She was co-chair of the AmericanHort (formerly OFA) Garden Center Committee for several years and now serves on their Retail Committee. Dr. Behe has served as chair of a USDA regional project committee where horticulturists and agricultural economists work collaboratively on consumer and economic challenges facing the ornamental horticulture industry. In 2018, she was awarded the American Society for Horticultural Science Undergraduate Educator of the Year. In 2016, she was awarded the Outstanding Extension Specialist in Michigan. In 2018, she was awarded the Outstanding Undergraduate Educator Career Award by the American Society for Horticultural Science. Launched in 2018, she publishes a weekly podcast called "Marketing Muncheis" available for free on her website bridgetbehe.com

Horticulture at MSU ... science and technology to cultivate human and environmental health.  
Michigan has long been an important horticultural state. After the forests were cut in the late l800s, farmers moved to Michigan and found good land and climates conducive to growing many horticultural crops. Land located along Lake Michigan is particularly suited for apple, peach and cherry orchards because southwesterly winds sweeping across the lake provide protection from sudden temperature changes. Former swamps are now used to produce blueberries, celery, onions, and other horticultural crops. Nurseries, florists and garden centers are numerous, and urban areas provide ready markets for horticultural products.

MSU Horticulture FacilitiesAs a subject, Horticulture has been part of the Michigan State University curriculum since this pioneer land grant institution opened in 1857. In 1883 Horticulture became a separate department headed by Liberty Hyde Bailey, who later became known as the "Dean of American Horticulture." Eustace Hall, the first building to be constructed in the United States solely for the teaching and study of horticulture, was completed in 1888, and it remains as the second oldest academic building on campus. The Department has offered MS degrees since 1910 and PhD degrees since 1927.

The Horticulture Department is known throughout the world for its excellence in teaching and research. In 1986 the MSU Horticulture Department moved into the new Plant and Soil Sciences Building located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Wilson and Bogue Streets. Some of the outstanding features of this facility are computerized greenhouses, excellent research and teaching laboratories, a floral design lab, a retail plant shop, and an autotutorial lab for students.

Address:   A288 Plant & Soil Science Bldg. East Lansing, MI 48823
Email:    hrt@msu.edu     Contact:   Bridget Behe, PhD
Phone:    (517) 355-5191 ext 1359   FAX: 


What is Horticulture? A Modern Applied Plant Science!

Horticulture is the science and art of the development, sustainable production, marketing, and use of high-value, intensively cultivated food and ornamental plants. Horticultural crops are diverse; they include annual and perennial species, delicious fruits and vegetables, and decorative indoor and landscape plants. These specialty crops help sustain and enrich our lives by providing nutritious food, enhancing the beauty of our homes and communities and reducing our carbon footprint.


Researchers evaluate carrot and cherry yields, two food specialty crops.

Horticulture also contributes to quality of life, and the beauty, sustainability and rehabilitation of our environment and the human condition (e.g., see https://www.loveyourlandscape.org/more/the-benefits-of-landscapes/).  Environmental horticulture (i.e., the “green industry”), is composed of careers in greenhouse production, wholesale brokers, commercial nurseries, garden centers, florists and landscape design and construction firms, as well as private and community gardens, municipal parks and state or national reserves.  Michigan ranks third in floriculture/greenhouse production, with wholesale crops valued at over $400 million, where, for example, bedding/annual garden plants account for over half of those sales – leading the U.S. A recent report out of Texas A&M University and the University of Florida concluded that the green industry in the U.S. had direct employment of 1.6 million individuals, nearly $14 billion in sales, and direct economic output of $136 billion.  Michigan is among the top 10 states in terms of employment in the green industry.

Why Study Horticulture at MSU?

The Department of Horticulture at MSU is dedicated to providing the highest-quality education and is one of the largest horticulture programs in the U.S. As the nation’s first Horticulture Department, we are proud to maintain a tradition of excellence spanning more than 150 years.  See why our students love horticulture and love studying it at MSU!


Students at MSU learning Plant Identification for the green industry.

In addition, MSU has a very active Student Horticulture Association club that allows YOU to get involved in many aspects of horticulture while having fun.


The Student Horticulture Association at the homecoming parade.

Careers in Horticulture

Practitioners of horticulture are as diverse as the crops that make up the industry and the discipline.  They include a wide array of individuals and groups who farm, landscape, garden, research, advise and enjoy the bounty of horticultural plants for their nourishment, health benefits and aesthetics.  For more information, visit our Careers in Horticulture page.

The Need for Horticulture Professionals

A strong and sustained need for horticulture professionals exists.  This is true in Michigan, the Great Lakes region, nationally and internationally; and is as true for small, local operations as it is for larger commercial enterprises.  The Department of Agriculture census estimated U.S. fresh market vegetable production at 18 million metric tons and a value of nearly $12 billion in 2015.  Similarly, U.S. (non-citrus) fruit and nut production was valued at over $26 billion for approximately 22 million tons in 2014.  In addition, it is estimated that the global urban horticulture market is worth nearly $300 billion. 

Michigan produces over 300 commodities, making it the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, and exports internationally to Canada, Mexico, Japan, China, South Korea, etc.  These successful horticultural operations depend on expertise in areas such as physiology, breeding, molecular biology, pomology, viticulture, and greenhouse management to enhance yield and improve production. The 2014 U.S. Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture concluded that too few scientists are being trained in agricultural disciplines like horticulture.

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