Editorial: October November 2011

September 28, 2011
Written by
The winter season is fast approaching and consumers have plenty of options when it comes to holiday and seasonal products. Garden centres aren’t typically top of mind for Christmas gifting and decorating, so it’s up to you to make your garden centre a destination for holiday shopping.

Christmas is a great time to establish an emotional relationship with shoppers. A new survey by Motista, a consumer research group in the United States, finds that people who feel a strong connection with a business are four times more likely to shop those retailers first when the need arises as compared to consumers who are just familiar and satisfied with their retailers. When they feel strong ties, connected customers are also 50 per cent more likely to advocate and recommend you to friends and family. They’ll also respond to your direct mail twice as often and follow your social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, four times more often than consumers who aren’t connected.

The festive season is jolly-well full of opportunity to appeal to the emotions of shoppers. It’s a time when people love remembering how they peeled back each day of their Advent calendar in eager anticipation of Santa’s arrival and spent the holidays next to the fireplace reading about how Christmas was almost ruined by a mean old Grinch. These types of memories are merchandise and display gold – create a few display trees or a section dedicated to your favourite Christmas movie or story and you’ll get people talking. Set up an outdoor section where customers can take a moment to relax next to an open fire with a hot chocolate in hand. Pump Christmas oldies through your speakers to create a nostalgic atmosphere that shoppers can revel in.

The Motista report stated that retailers can also build connections by fitting into the real lives of consumers. The survey’s respondents indicated that they want a business that simplifies their lives, a retailer that helps them live their lives the way they want to, and a retailer that gives them a sense of accomplishment after shopping there.

One way to apply this concept at your garden centre is by offering unique winter containers. A stylish, customized container featured at the end of the driveway, on the front porch or on the back deck is a great way to fill the void left by snow-covered gardens and frosted-over planters. Used inside, a container can also complement the holiday décor and add a natural element. On page 38, Brian Minter discusses how garden centres can really expand on their winter container offerings and corner this market. Inspired by the approach used at Sheridan Nurseries, Minter offers tips that will help you take your winter planters to a whole new level.

Garden centres have a place in the holiday retail market, and you need to go after this business with confidence. You have products that make the home – inside and out – a beautiful place in the spring, summer and fall. With competition from other centres, florists and big-box stores, winter is no time to hibernate. Show customers you’ve got their wish lists covered.

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