John Stanley, renowned garden center and retail consultant, gave tips to garden retailers that will help them build a successful business now and on through to 2020.
Stanley started by discussing customer demographics:
Millennials (those 33 and under) are very interested in gardening, but they are more interested in buying experiences, not products. To attract these buyers, garden centers must create a space they want to spend time in.
“Gen Xers don’t know what gardening is,” Stanley said.
Baby Boomers are the age category most targeted by garden centers; however, gardening is a shrinking part of the average Baby Boomer budget:
1. Travel (Gardening used to be #1) is tops at $12,320, followed by
2. Family activities
4. Gardening — $2,400
5. Fishing: Stanley noted that the fishing industry is doing a very good job promoting the activity with YouTube videos.
Today’s consumers are cautious and price-conscious, according to Stanley, but more than anything they want to add value to their lives. Here are ways to convert consumers from browsers to buyers:
• Pricing strategy: Offer 3 options, where the middle one is the one you want to sell. • People will spend more if they perceive to be saving money, time or mental energy.
• Sustainability initiatives, eg green walls, save the bees.
• Fun, eg flower urinals.
• Promote the social causes you support (eg, Who Gives a Crap, AUS toilet seller)
• Be kid-friendly.
Stanley also stressed the following principles of merchandising:
1. Place the familiar with the unfamiliar; eg, creative displays, such as planted pallets (popular with millennials).
2. Make it easy for the consumer: 1-2-3 signage; eg, How to plant a container — 1. Select the container. 2. Pick a plant. 3. Potting soil. It’s easy!
3. Add value. Selling naked, versus dressed; eg, planting inexpensive plants in spendy containers.
4. Cross merchandise to provide solutions, put like with like; eg, everything you need to grow cacti, citrus, etc.
5. Keep up with the trends: composting, grow your own super-foods, eat your weeds, drink your garden, bees, urban forestry, men in the garden (American men spend more time in the garden than women)
6. Steal ideas. Whenever you’re running out of ideas, visit your competitors and see what they’re doing.