26 Jul 2017

Garden retail: Pinning down the millennial market online and in store

Garden retail: Pinning down the millennial market online and in store


Garden retail: Pinning down the millennial market online and in store

In the second part of our series we're analysing how to grab Millennials' attention and bring them to your store. Previously we established that millennials' new found interest in gardening is partly permanent and partly trend-based. Either way, there is short-term and long-term money to be made from this new customer demographic and here we look at how to achieve it.

To understand what they're are already doing to encourage millennials choose them for their plant purchases, I asked thirty garden centres: Has your business adapted any of the following in order to attract a future generation of gardeners/customers?

I was particularly impressed to see many of them adapting their strategies to reach the millennial market although surprised by the low number of those who are focusing on events and experiences, given the millennial generation values experiences over the ownership of goods. Read (https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2015/06/01/nownershipnoproblem-nowners-millennials-value-experiences-over-ownership/#e78a41d54062).

How garden centres can create the right experience for a millennial customer

The shopping experience

You don't need to go to town creating a whole ‘experience' part of your business. You can simply make the journey through your store more interesting and interactive, as well as intuitive to the way younger people want to shop. Many millennials feel about garden centres the same way garden centres feel about social media – that it's unknown territory, a language they don't speak, not for them.

This is because plants are often categorised by horticulturists, whereas customers shop for plants in terms of colour, size and effort required. To meet your future big spenders half-way, let people shop using on own terms, be creative in how you minimize the use of Latin terminology and aim for the experience to be fun. It all helps people spend money with you.

Patch, a new online plant shop, does this exceedingly well, which you'd expect, because the company was set up by a millennial who struggled to understand gardening and garden centres when first starting out. They use ‘Vera' for Large Sansevieria or ‘Reggie' for Strelitzia Reginae. Whether this approach to attracting young buyers suits your business is by no means a given but for certain ranges it's worth consideration.

Accessible plant information

Basic details about a plant like how much light it should receive, what size pot it should be in, whether it's suitable to live indoors or outdoors or how often to water it are not so basic to a millennial! Whether to re-pot, prune or move it in winter, all aspects of gardening are complete unknowns that will be googled while in your shop if you don't provide such information. Being the source of knowledge is a huge asset to your business.

Online plant guides

Your opportunity to help doesn't end when your young customer leaves the store. Their first port-of-call for plant related questions that they didn't ask in store will be social media. Creating Pinterest-friendly plant guides or video tutorials on Youtube could be the way to engage with this market. Ideas for topics might be:

  • Nurturing plants: customers might be unsure of what a plant will look like later down the road and also might feel anxious about killing it;
  • Suitable types of soil, living conditions;
  • What to look for in a healthy plant;
  • How to prune it – what and where to cut;
  • When to transfer the plant to a different container and so on…

If you're feeling adventurous consider sharing advice on how to choose plants for year-round success with container planting, or how to create a balcony garden.

In-store workshops

Workshops are the perfect way to cross-sell some of the products listed in part three of the series; perhaps you could teach people how to make macramé hangers or how to plant a Terrarium.

Your millennial visitors will expect a good experience, memorable and sociable, with elements they can share on social media. They'll reward you by posting pictures of what they've learned or created, and the great time they had, on their social networks.

In the final part of this series I look in to product ranges and social media as further methods that garden retailers can use to attract a younger gardener.

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