Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, May 03, 2013

First World Problems

I have the day off and given the season my plan for the afternoon is to catch up on a bunch of yard work. I'm not a yard perfectionist by any stretch. Nor do we live in one of those neighborhoods which tries to enforce lawn and garden perfection. But when one owns a lawn, one wants it to look nice. And as it's finally creeping up on the frost date, I want to be able to turn my attention to the vegetable garden in the next couple weeks.

What is more, now that I work for a company that sells lawn and garden products, and my neighbors know this, I feel a certain duty to not look utterly disgraceful. And I have this sense that somehow I'm staying in touch with my hard working middle class roots by doing all my own outside work and not being one of "those people" who hire someone to do it.

There's a lot of worry about "those people" at work, since they don't buy consumer lawn and garden care products. They may put down week killers and insect killer and fertilizers, but they're likely to buy in bulk and go with commodity brands. They don't buy the top shelf products.

This week I had a new employee starting on my team who hails from the Republic of Congo. One of the first steps is getting to know the products, so in the afternoon I took him out to Home Depot and Lowes to look over the relevant sections of the store and discuss the industry. After an hour of touring the garden section he asked me whether the company sold much into the developing world. We don't. He nodded and observed it seemed hard to imagine people back home buying plant food specially formulated for orchids or fertilizers that make your lawn greener while killing weeds.

I figured that this might be the wrong moment to explain that people worried the US was becoming too affluent to bother with our products. Still, I'll at least have the knowledge that in venturing out to trim my grass and mulch around the new apple tree, I am at least in union with many centuries of oft-mocked Anglo-sphere bourgeois before me.


Jenny said...

So what is your company's take on organic products? Do they see it as a fad to ignore or the wave of the future?

At my house, my husband does all of our lawn and garden work--no outsourcing here. He strives to use completely organic methods in the yard and believes in encouraging mainstream companies to grow their organic lines by buying their organic products.

There are some people in the organic movement who believe in boycotting companies that produce any type of non-organic product, but my husband thinks that is nuts. How are you going to get more people to use organics if the big companies don't make them?

Darwin said...

We have a full organic line, but in general it doesn't sell very well.

From what I've seen of the market research, there are a lot of consumers who say they would like to buy organic products, but then when they actually go to buy a fertilizer or an insect spray, they decide that the conventional product would work better than the organic one and buy the chemicals "just this one time". Then, at the other end, a lot of the folks who are deeply committed to organic products have a pretty DIY approach and so they are using their home compost pile and other home-made supplements rather than buying any products at all.

However, all the forecasts I see show organics continuing to gradually take over share from conventionals, so we try to keep the line healthy even though it's currently not a big money maker.

Jenny said...

All of that makes sense.

Folks are accustomed to the instant results with conventional products while the organic products require patience over time so the soil can build itself.

We are pretty DIY, but still there are products that need to be purchased like bone meal, blood meal, neem oil, and the like. It's always more convenient to be able to buy that stuff in the local big box store than to search it out from obscure locations all over the internet.