As 2019 becomes the new season, a number of garden trend reports have been released, advising garden retailers on what they need in their marketing strategies for the year. As you would expect, the millennial market is foremost in many people’s minds.
Most of these reports mention how this is a generation that does not understand gardening, as it was not taught to them by their parents. The reports also mention that the trend towards nano gardening, both indoors and outdoors, will be a feature moving forward.
The focus on specific garden shopper segments, I feel, often misses an opportunity. Yes, the millennial gardener, the eco gardener, and late bloomer coming into gardening as they retire, are markets that we should focus on, but one of the biggest opportunities is the lazy gardener. We often misread them as gardeners who do not have time to spend on their gardens, but there is money to be made by focusing on this category. This consumer is often a millennial, but can also be a Gen X consumer who wants an attractive garden and balcony. They want it now and they want it provided without hassle. These lazy gardeners are also targeted by other retailers. In the food sector, ready meals are one of the fastest growing areas, with a growth of around four per cent per year in most countries. Our job is to take a lesson from the ready-meal sector and adapt it to the garden sector.
‘Pretend you planted it yourself’
The marketing used in the ready-meal industry could be easily adopted by the garden sector. Companies use marketing phrases like ‘don’t lift a finger’, ‘these meals are perfect’ and ‘heat and enjoy’, which could be easily transplanted to say ‘pretend you planted it yourself’, ‘these plant bowls are perfect for spring’, and ‘water and enjoy’.
They have identified that time is an issue and relate to the consumer with ‘stop wasting time’. For garden centres, this could be adapted to, for example, ‘save six weeks of growing time’.
Suppliers of ready meals also promote their expertise with phrases such as ’30 years of experience’ or ‘let our chef cook for you’. This implies they can produce a better finished product than the consumer, while referring to their expertise. For the garden sector, this could be changed to ‘our qualified gardeners have planted these for you’.
Some lazy cooks are also provided with meals in boxes, delivered to their doors with all the ingredients they need, in exact quantities and sometimes pre-chopped. Why not the garden sector?
Delegates of the recent International Garden Centre Congress in the Czech Republic were shown a similar concept using plant bowls in a box. They visited Zahradnictvi Libeznice Garden Centre (zahradnictvilibeznice.cz) situated on the northern border of Prague. This independent garden centre has an online shop that makes up 15 per cent of the company’s overall turnover – one-third hardware, one-third plants and one-third planted window boxes. With the plant bowl kits, customers selected their patio bowl arrangements and the kits were delivered to their homes.
The Category Opportunity
Retailers have the opportunity to look at each category that they are selling in and identify a lazy gardener product combination in each – a combination that takes the hard work out of the task and provides a ready-made product. These products are generally less price-sensitive than individual products. As the customer is less likely to do a price comparison, these items can increase the overall gross profit of the category. Products within the edible garden and patio categories are ideal places to start.
Lazy gardeners will continue to be an important group of customers in the future, and it is a group we need to focus on now.
John Stanley is a retail business coach, consultant, speaker and author. His expertise is in customer-focused layout, merchandising, marketing and branding, and customer-focused selling and service. Visit his website at johnstanley.com.au.
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