Millennials: an opportunity for independent garden retailers?

Millennials: an opportunity for independent garden retailers?
“During this major focus on interior greening, there is a window of opportunity in which the garden retail community can educate and inspire people about gardening. A chance to bring young gardeners into the fold longer term.”

During our extensive research with garden centres in the run up to creating the live content for the Glee trade show, we hear consistently that it’s a priority to bring young gardeners into the store. In a series of three articles we look at how garden retailers are already doing it, and what opportunities they might be underestimating.

First, let’s talk about product.

To what extent have garden retailers taken advantage of the trend for house-plants that millennials of all ages have bought into with alacrity? Big high street retailers have been quick to see the opportunities that this presents and have jumped on this bandwagon that you might have thought you’d seen the last of in the 70s. Spider plants are back!

Overnight, it seems garden retail has found itself an influx of new competitors. I explored Central London one sunny morning this week and found a whole range of retailers, mainly targeting millennial customers, all cashing-in.

IMG_0233.jpg IMG_0236-f7b3b1.jpg Urban Outfitters IMG_0239.jpg Urban Outfitters IMG_0240-b7f7c3.jpg H&M Home IMG_0241.jpg Kiehl’s IMG_0243.jpg Jack Wills & Other Stories IMG_0245.jpg & Other Stories

What we can see from these images is that retailers previously uninvolved in selling plants have got in on the act. Urban Outfitters, who describe themselves as a lifestyle brand, have created a product sector called ‘Terrariums and Garden’ to address this cultural change amongst their primary customer group (millennials).

It’s easy to feel discouraged by such competitors, but their presence actually strengthens the argument for investing in this opportunity and means you’re able to take advantage of the fact that high-street retailers are introducing your customers to the joy of plants!

The head-start these stores have is knowledge of their millennial customer gained through analysis, coupled with marketing capability. Urban Outfitters don’t have better plants or more expertise than garden centres, quite the opposite, but they know what millennials want. This is fairly straightforward information to acquire and use if you’re a traditional garden centre.

But how far should you go to accommodate millennial preferences?

Admittedly, the hype for house plants will calm down. Take, for instance, Pantone’s ‘2017 Color of the Year’ which is “Greenery,” a zesty lime shade that evokes “flourishing foliage”. It signifies the importance of plants in interiors and fashion this year specifically. Next year this trend will change but during this major focus on interior greening, there is a window of opportunity in which the garden retail community can educate and inspire people about gardening. A chance to bring young gardeners into the fold longer term.

Whichever angle we take, millennials are forming life-long preferences, hobbies and loyalties now. While their interests will change as they age they’ll bring with them positive, negative or absent feelings towards garden centres.

Next we’ll explore how garden centres are currently attracting millennial shoppers, and what the next steps might be

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