An interview with Romeo Sommers, Retail Lab Creative Director
The Happy Gardening theme – what is it, and how easy is it for garden retailers to incorporate this into store? And is it influenced by any wider trends?
Happy Gardening is about showing everybody, even those who have no experience with gardening, that it should be fun, that you're allowed to make mistakes, and the fun part is harvesting your own crop from your vegetable garden or cutting flowers and putting them in the vase. People new to gardening are often overwhelmed by the prospect of gardening. Happy Gardening is about learning that failure is ok; not be afraid to try new things and experience the fun side of growing.
Think of gardening like a beautifully dressed mannequin. You see the outfit and then in the same area you find everything you need such as the trousers, the shirt, the pullovers; everything is there in the right colour combination, and this should be the same in garden centres. For garden centres it is easy to incorporate, but it means they have to change their mind-set. Plants, pots, soil and additional decoration need to be stocked together for this to increase turnover in your garden centre.
Talking about the elements of the Retail Lab – this year there will be a strong cubism theme. Where has this come from and who does this appeal to? How easy will it for UK retailers to implement in store?
I have seen a lot of cubes and frames on my travels, it's an ever-growing trend. I spoke to Lisa White from WGSN who has also witnessed an increase in the popularity of cubism, so we knew it was a theme that we could adopt. Working with cubism in garden centres is easy because it creates a focal point for the customer in store, a resting point for the eyes. Products really stand out when cubism is incorporated as a display method, and it can have real commercial gains for a garden centre.
Colour was a major component of the Retail Lab last year - looking to the Retail Lab 2018, how important is colour to ‘Happy Gardening'?
Colour is big in fashion and interior design. I recently read an article about new flower bouquets, where they mentioned ‘think outside of the box and consider strange colour combinations…..“make it happy”. This is something that we will really work with in the 2018 Retail Lab. I naturally work in colour blocks, so when a customer says ‘I want to have a white garden, a yellow garden or a red garden – it's easier for me to put together the right combination of plants. Colours can help the customer to select the right plants, it's a spot-on trend.
For you, what is the most exciting aspect about the Retail Lab for 2018?
We are going to try a new way of working this year. This includes the structure, the colours, and the materials that we are going to use. People have challenged us to be a bit more out of the box and I think that's what we've done. What we have created will hopefully trigger ideas and inspire many more people.
We're going to show some new things, and I want to show a different way of presenting products and different combinations that can be recreated in store. “Feel good” is also a great trend that I want to build on within this year's Retail Lab. Last year we had the oxygen bubble to show what plants do for you, now I want to go a step further – what does the colour do for you? What does the scent do for you?
Another theme I am looking forward to is ‘Easy gardening'. People say ‘I don't have enough time to work in the garden, to maintain the plants and flowers', but we have so many products that help us to maintain a garden in a very easy way. We want them to see gardening could simply be a matter of including a potted plant in the house or in the garden, which can be enjoyed without having to work too hard. And of course, pets are now considered an extra member of the family. Humanisation is a very interesting trend that we are going to focus on to showcase what we can do with pets and plants.
For any brands out there interested in the Retail Lab - what benefits are there of getting involved?
Working with somebody that you've not worked with before and seeing new combinations you'd never thought of can be commercially beneficial. For one company, in 2017, I combined two lines they had which they'd never done before. The idea turned out to be hugely successful for them and they received a lot of PR through the press as a result. That was a huge benefit for them. The fun part of a project like the Retail Lab is companies can grow and learn new things together from participating. So, if you'd like to take part, get in touch.