“GrowIt! has attracted more than 1 million members, with nearly 45% in the millennial age bracket. It serviced over 25,000 cities across North America with regional advice. The app inspired millions more in its social media campaigns. GrowIt! members have had countless conversations on the app about everything from growing better tomatoes to sharing their love of houseplants. All of it aimed at inspiring the next generation of plant buyers, educating them, and connecting them to local experienced gardeners.”
Sales & Marketing Manager at Ball Horticultural Company
Ball Horticultural Company, a global leader in horticulture, has evolved from a wholesale cut flower business in 1905 to a pioneering force in breeding and distributing seed and vegetative plant materials. Operating in 17 countries, Ball is renowned for its vast array of notable plant varieties like Wave® petunias and Sombrero® Echinacea, aiming to advance horticultural practices and inspire gardeners worldwide
Ball Horticulture and Eight Bit Studios teamed up to help the next generation of gardeners discover plants and learn about what grows in their region. What started out as a seed of an idea has bloomed into a community of over 1 million “Growers” who have submitted over 3 million photo ratings, while helping thousands of people identify plants and learn about what grows in their region.
GrowIt! faced the challenge of catering to two distinct yet interconnected groups: growers and plant retailers. For growers, the primary difficulty was accessing reliable information about plants suitable for their specific locations. This lack of localized plant knowledge often led to suboptimal gardening experiences. Conversely, plant retailers grappled with a dearth of consumer trend data and insights into how their products were being utilized in various regions.
The overarching goals for GrowIt! were thus multifaceted:
Engage the Next Generation of Growers: The app aimed to appeal to and actively involve the next generation of garden enthusiasts, providing them with a platform to explore, learn, and share their gardening experiences.
Engage Retailers: By creating a platform that connects gardeners, GrowIt! sought to offer plant retailers valuable insights into consumer preferences and trends, thereby aiding them in making informed decisions about product stocking and marketing strategies.
Increase Data Collection for Informed Decision-Making: A key objective was to enhance the collection of user-generated data. This data was crucial in informing Ball Horticultural Company’s sales and marketing strategies, enabling them to better cater to both retailers and end-consumers.
Seth Reed of Ball Horticultural Company summarized this vision succinctly: “We want people to share their garden to inspire more growing, promote plants they love, and help others steer clear of plants that don’t perform.” This statement encapsulated the essence of GrowIt!'s mission — to foster a vibrant community of gardeners who can both contribute to and benefit from shared plant knowledge.
GrowIt! is different from gardening apps in that it is the first app to allow users to rate plants. These ratings are the lifeblood of GrowIt! Plants are an extremely local thing. That’s why GrowIt! uses geolocation to connect users with growers in their region, so they can learn and explore what thrives in their neck of the woods. Users only see flowers, vegetables, and herbs that have been grown locally and rated by their peers. This helps the next generation gardener make better decisions, so that their first gardening experience is a success.
Plants are an extremely local thing and GrowIt! uses geolocation to connect users with growers in their region. Users only see flowers, vegetables, and herbs that have been grown locally and rated by their peers.
The Core Experience:
A thriving grower community with robust social engagement.
BLE enabled maps driven platform for garden center affiliations.
A fun and delightful way to earn rewards for social behaviors.
GrowIt! became the first app to allow users to rate plants, leveraging geolocation to connect users with local growers. Key features included:
Social Gardening Platform with login and profile personalization.
User-generated content capabilities for posting photos and videos of plants.
Community engagement tools such as forums, direct messaging, and following/unfollowing users.
BLE-based tours in physical gardens and retail profiles.
Deep analytics integration.
Since its launch, GrowIt! has attracted more than 1 million members, with nearly 45% in the millennial age bracket. It serviced over 25,000 cities across North America with regional advice. The app inspired millions more in its social media campaigns. GrowIt! members have had countless conversations on the app about everything from growing better tomatoes to sharing their love of houseplants. All of it aimed at inspiring the next generation of plant buyers, educating them, and connecting them to local experienced gardeners.
Now in 2020, consumer tech for plant lovers has evolved from being on the fringe to the hot new thing. Where once there were only a few plant apps, now there are dozens of great apps providing plant care and plant swapping to augmented reality landscaping and other plant communities.
The millennial buyers we were so nervous about have officially gotten into plants, and technology is supporting and strengthening their interests. The challenges that existed in 2014 that made GrowIt! important and meaningful no longer exist. It’s with that in mind that we believe GrowIt! has achieved its mission.
Attracted over 1 million members, with 45% being millennials.
Serviced over 25,000 cities across North America.
Sparked widespread social media campaigns and discussions.
Helped in educating and inspiring a new generation of plant buyers.
Evolved consumer tech for plant lovers, making GrowIt! a leader in its domain.
1MM+ users amassed by year 5!
Growth: 15K (1), 40K (2), 250K (3), 500K (4)
3.4MM photo ratings
350K photo uploads
Acquired by FB Group, 2018
Focus on Community
In the first phase of the GrowIt! project, the primary focus was on building a robust community platform. This phase involved the development of a dynamic social media feed within the app, allowing users to interact with each other as well as with expert growers. Key components of this phase included:
Community-Centric Design: The app interface was designed to foster user interaction, emphasizing easy sharing of gardening experiences and tips.
Expert Engagement: Integration of expert gardeners into the platform to provide guidance, answer questions, and share insights, thereby enriching the user experience.
Social Interaction Features: Implementation of features such as commenting, liking, and sharing within the app to encourage a lively and interactive community spirit.
The second phase aimed to amplify user engagement and gather critical data for future enhancements. This phase included:
Enhanced Engagement Strategies: Introduction of interactive features and prompts to increase user activity within the app, such as challenges, quizzes, and more.
Data Collection and Analytics: Implementation of advanced analytics tools to gather and analyze user data, providing insights into user behavior, preferences, and trends.
Rewards System Workshop: A workshop to design and refine a reward system that incentivizes user participation and contribution, thereby enhancing overall engagement.
In this phase, the goal was to broaden the scope of engagement by integrating additional features that connected users to garden centers and showcased individual gardening projects. This phase included:
Garden Center Integration: Introducing features that allow garden centers to participate in the app, providing users with access to expert advice and resources.
Showcase User Projects: Development of a feature that enables users to showcase their own gardens, sharing their progress and achievements with the community.
Project Collaboration and Sharing: Encouraging users to collaborate on gardening projects and share their experiences, further fostering a sense of community and shared learning.