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Danish Tour Takeaways

Market your store where consumers most often gather

October 21, 2015  By John Stanley

November 2015 — The International Garden Centre Association Congress was held in early August when some of the top 200 global garden centre owners and managers gathered in Odense in Denmark to visit with some of the leading horticultural retailers in that country.

My eight key Danish tour takeaways are as follows:

1. Provide products that are unique to you. Many garden centres are concerned the consumer can get the same product from other retailers either online or at a large hardware store for a cheaper price.


2. Pallets make a great merchandising prop. At the annual Gift Trade Fair held in central Jutland, it was interesting to see that pallets can be used as interesting display props, whether it is to sell beer or plants.

3. Willow weaving provides a new unique product range. Willow stems have been used for many years to be weaved into baskets and other valuable utensils. One Danish grower has taken this to a new level by weaving stems into topiary and providing the consumer with affordable, living, garden features.

4. Be bold. Attracting the Millennial “eye” is a challenge – this means bold marketing is essential.

5. Provide a free rose and have the longest queues in your garden centre. One retailer created one of the longest customer queues ever seen in a garden centre. Some 200 roses were offered. It is estimated he sold 700 roses during the period and his average sale per customer was 40 per cent higher during this short promotional period.

6. Lego has a vision we could share. Everyone in the world would have 90 Lego bricks each if they were shared equally. A presentation to our group by senior management highlighted how much thought and development goes into creating special moments for the consumer. Many retailers came away from the visit thinking about how they could create special moments for consumers in their garden centres.

7. Market your garden centre where the consumer is. During our visit to the largest shopping centre in Denmark, we learned that in an average week, some 175,000 visitors walked down the central aisle. Managements offer the space for free as they believe this is unique way of getting consumers to linger longer in the centre. Among those taking them up on the offer is one of Denmark’s leading garden centres, which is partnering with the centre to promote gardens to the Danish consumer. This begs the question … how are you networking with your local shopping centre?

8. Gift boxes and wrapping paper that allow the giver to engage with the receiver. The conference trade show included an area dedicated to new Nordic designers. This is where I met Marja Moilanen from Finland and the CEO of Pomarbo (www.pomarbo.fl).

Moilanen has developed an ecological, interactive wrapping paper. The consumer who is receiving the gift downloads the Pomarbo App and receives a greeting from the sender from the QR Code embedded in the wrapping paper. This enhances the intimate moment the gift is unwrapped!

The Danes made sure delegates had very early mornings and very late nights and a huge range of experiences to introduce into their own businesses. Next year the Congress moves to Switzerland.

John Stanley is a retail business coach, consultant, speaker and author. His specialist areas are customer-focused layout, customer-focused merchandising, customer-focused marketing and branding, and customer-focused selling and service. Visit his website at

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