Purpose 360

Growing a transparent and authentic social purpose with ScottsMiracle-Gro

Episode Summary

As a company for gardeners, ScottsMiracle-Gro has a succinct purpose: “helping people express themselves on their own piece of the Earth.” Cultivating a thriving garden takes care, commitment, and flexibility to adapt as conditions change. With that, creativity – and expression – can blossom.

Episode Notes

Gardening is not about immediate success or instant gratification. The same can be said about social purpose.

As a company for gardeners, ScottsMiracle-Gro has a succinct purpose: “helping people express themselves on their own piece of the Earth.” Cultivating a thriving garden takes care, commitment, and flexibility to adapt as conditions change. With that, creativity – and expression – can blossom.

By taking this approach to cultivating social purpose, Scotts has developed a thoughtful, adaptive, and long-term platform for business and social impact. And that’s no miracle.

Jim King, SVP of Corporate Affairs and Chief Communications Officer, joined us to share how Scotts honed its green thumb for purpose.

Scotts is the largest marketer of lawn and gardening consumables in the world. The business is healthy, the brand is a household name, and the products enable people to beautify their environments and put food on their tables. Yet, Scotts wanted to do more and be more. Nearly a decade ago, Scotts CEO Jim Hagedorn asked, “What are we here to do?” The answer was not just to help people buy fertilizer.

With a mandate from the CEO, Scotts embarked on its social purpose journey. Part of that was probing the company’s existing or potential weak spots – such as the environmental impact of products. One pain point stemmed from the company’s science-based focus. With the largest team of agronomists in the world and field stations across the U.S. and Europe, Scotts had “a tendency to fall back on the science…and defend the science at all costs because it’s fact based.”

The average consumer doesn’t want to hear about science, especially in regard to potential negative impacts on the environment. Consumers want to connect with brands that are empathetic and have a sense of humanity. In this episode, King talks about the legislative and environmental hurdles that helped Scotts take a more human – and transparent – approach to its business and purpose.

Since that mindshift, Scotts has sponsored a $10M science challenge, the George Barley Water Prize; built 1,000+ community gardens; created the Water Positive Landscapes initiative; built thriving long-term NGO partnerships; and more.

Here are our favorite insights from King:

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