From Mission to Pricing: Unveiling the Value of Harvst Solutions

From Mission to Pricing: Unveiling the Value of Harvst Solutions

They say you shouldn’t listen to the haters… Whilst we love to read about how our customers have “saved hours of time” through automated watering verses manually, “enabled us to go on holiday without fear our veggies would die”, etc., we think it’s important to listen, read, and respond to all feedback– however painful some of it might be!

Cost is what we’re choosing to shine the spotlight on in this blog and how we might define value for money. We’ve had comments such as, “you could get a gardener for that”, “you can buy a lot of salad for that” and “seems a lot compared to…” We know cost is a major consideration, so we’ll examine it and provide some context with our approach to product development.

We’ll get back to these comments, but first it makes sense to give that context.

Harvst was set up with a mission to help people grow more after our co-founder, Chris, sought to increase the productivity of his own garden. Whilst establishing the company, thoughts were not, “how do we make the maximum possible profit”. If they were, we would not be a Made in Britain accredited manufacturer; we would have our products made at the lowest viable cost, likely on the other side of the world.

We adopted the same approach for the S-Series and WaterMate products, but in order to give some specifics, we’ll use the H-Series Indoor Garden to give insight into the way we approach new product development. Considering these things and making what we believe to be the responsible choices typically increase cost, but they tend to pay off for everyone long term.

Long-lasting design

‘Planned obsolescence’ is a design principle that should not exist in our view – it’s where products are designed to have a specific lifespan.

Consider the ‘Centennial Light’, which is a light bulb that has been on pretty much continuously since 1901. This proves it’s possible to design a light bulb to last at least a lifetime, so why do we find ourselves changing light bulbs we’ve changed before? The answer is planned obsolescence and without it, companies wouldn’t be nearly as profitable.

Harvst products are designed to last.

Design factors to ensure longevity include robust high quality materials, modularity and easy to replace components should the worst happen.

Reusability and recyclability

Reusability and recyclability is core to sustainable practice and the circular economy, which is why after each harvest there is 0% inorganic matter left over – everything is 100% reusable.

Following an H-Series harvest we advocate compositing the used coir pellet and root mass, so the compost can be used to grow more plants. ‘Waste products’ are typically a choice, and not ours. We have taken pains to make the product from sustainable and recycled materials.

The structure of our H-Series is made from laminate plywood; wood is a greenhouse positive material with a lower environmental impact than plastic, commonly used in other indoor grow systems. Where we have had to use plastic (mainly the watering trays, tank and windows) it is 100% recycled and recyclable.

Sustainable Materials

Timber for the product’s structure makes up the vast majority of material used – 100% of which are sourced from FSC certified suppliers.

The ‘consumables’ such as coir pellets and seeds are sourced from suppliers using completely sustainable production practices.

Sustainable Distribution

All packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable. No foam fill or plastic sticky tape from Harvst. Sustainability and environmental credentials trump cost when selecting our distribution partners.

Choices

When designing the H-Series grow system we were faced with numerous commercial choices. A big one was, do we do as the others do and tie in customers with proprietary seed / plant / grow pods to ensure they have to come to us for supply, or do we design in flexibility and versatility to ensure customers can use the most sustainable environmentally friendly practices possible.

1 x proprietary seed pod is often a similar price to a packet of 1000 x seeds, both need to be packaged and delivered.

Being environmentally conscious, and gardeners ourselves, we knew that using seeds in our indoor system would be the responsible choice in our product design.

Of course it would be possible to look at all choices solely through a commercial lens, which would most likely translate into higher profits for us and lower product prices for our customers. However, this is short term thinking which we see time and again costs more in the long term.

For example, if you were to buy a cheap imported plastic product that lasts one year, you’d only get 10% of the value that you would have got, had it lasted tens years.

We’ve been conditioned to look for the lowest price and the quickest gratification. Subconsciously most folk know there are hidden costs, but often we have a blind spot to the cost beyond the initial purchase, such as a limited product lifespan, to the environment, etc. At Harvst, we actively look past those short term profits from subpar products and practices to ask the question, “how do we make sure our products last so our customers receive the greatest value?”

Price & Value

This context is important to have given, as without it, you can’t properly compare like for like and therefore understand the value of a product against the alternatives.

In today’s world we’re bombarded by marketing trying to sell us stuff, which has a tendency to make a lot of us naturally cynical.

Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as someone that ‘knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing’.

That’s not to say price is unimportant, just simply that it needs to be considered in the context of value.

To decide what to price Harvst products, we work out how much it costs us to make, sell and deliver with enough left over to pay the bills. That’s it.

Importantly and within reason, we try to build in as much value into our products as possible.

Value
noun
1. the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

With this definition it could be viewed as a bit inappropriate to try and calculate the value of an H-Series by how much money it might save. You are essentially buying a tool to make gardening easier, more enjoyable, productive and controllable – quantifying this ‘worth’ is different for each of us.

That said, we’ll attempt to lend our perspective in coming back to the comments on product cost:

“You could get a gardener for that” – well, yes you could– perhaps for a few hours, day or a week. However, our approach is to create grow systems in line with our mission and principles that will continue to look after your plants for years on end.

“You can buy a lot of salad for that” – yes you absolutely could, although we’re trying to help you grow more of your own, which we believe to be of significant ‘value’ in the long term on a number of levels.

For the sake of argument, let’s ignore the taste, freshness, self sufficiency, as well as mental and physical health benefits of growing your own and purely look at the financial cost / price. First we need something to compare, so given we’re talking about salad, let’s use the average supermarket bag of salad which costs about £1.50 depending where you shop.

1 x standard seed tray (38 x 24 cms) will produce the rough equivalent of 2 bags of leafy green salad or £3 worth in 4 weeks, having spent a couple of weeks in an H-Series nursery.

Excluding the nursery, the H3 has a 9 seed tray capacity which if we multiply by £3 worth of salad each, gives us £27 as an equivalent 4 week production capacity for the unit. 52 weeks in a year divided by 4 weeks = 13 full growing cycles at £27. This gives a rough comparable £351 / year worth of salad, which means it would take 2.8 years before the H3 had paid for itself. Unless of course you bagged a bargain by joining Harvst Club, which would reduce this time. (Both the S-Series and H-Series ranges, including the H-Mini have roughly a 2-3 year payback period at their RRP if viewed in this way.)

Now there are a number of things to say, first, that’s a lot of salad! In reality, you’d likely stagger propagation and harvest daily rather than everything once a month. However, more importantly it assumes you’re only growing leafy greens of average quality from an averagely priced supermarket, not more expensive crops. (It’s worth noting that if you grew a range of other more expensive things like Basil, Parsley, Coriander, etc. that payback period reduces significantly with the added benefit that fresh kitchen herbs lift any dish!)

So, “you can buy a lot of salad for that”, but after a couple of years you’ll have spent a similar amount. After that, it will have worked out to be cheaper to grow your own in one of our grow systems and you’ll have derived a load more value along the way.

“Seems a lot compared to…” – we’ve looked at the cost compared to having a gardener which is essentially saying you don’t have to tend to your crops (automation), as well as vs just buying salad and so what about other products?

The summary is that there aren’t any directly comparable products, although there are some that come close in some functionality or look. The S-Series looks like a mini greenhouse, but is a propagator, cold frame and mini greenhouse in one with smart climate control features you won’t find elsewhere at the time of writing. And it’s a similar story with the WaterMate and the H-Series, as our approach has been to create products that offer the best value possible and to help you grow more!

Thanks for reading – hopefully it’s evident that our approach is deeply rooted in our mission to provide sustainable, long-last solutions for home gardening. In essence, the value of our products extends beyond purely monetary considerations, it encompasses sustainability, convenience and the satisfaction of growing your own.