By John Stanley One of the challenges for any retail business is getting new consumers to enter the store. The mass merchandisers normally rely on price promotions to get the consumer through their front door and this means small independent business have to rely on other means of ï¿½touching the consumerï¿½ to get there attention. To achieve this, a retailer needs to know their consumer target exceptionally well and to ï¿½touchï¿½ them in a way that they are willing to pay slightly more to buy a similar product. Various techniques have been tried with varying success. The garden industry feels that it needs to target middle aged women to grow its business and price rarely is a sustainable message to build loyalty. There has been an upsurge in changing the packaging for women over the last year and I have been one of those concerned about the excess Pink packaging phenomena. I have felt it has been a marketing gimmick that has not understood the target market. I was therefore pleased to see the Garden Pavilion pink promotion in South Africa and congratulated them on their marketing strategy and the success of the campaign. Garden Pavilion is a group of garden centres scattered across South Africa and Swaziland. They combined forces with suppliers and the media to promote ï¿½Plant a Pink Gardenï¿½ during the southern hemisphere spring season. The group was endorsed by the Cancer Association of South Africa and they worked closely with the garden media and had an eight page spread in South African Gardening, the leading English consumer garden magazine in the region, and Tuin Paleis, the African magazine. Each edition of the magazines had a redeemable voucher inserted into the polythene sleeve that the magazine comes in. This voucher used the cancer logo and offered a pair of free pink gardening gloves to readers of the magazine. The gloves being available from their nearest Garden Pavilion store. The aim of the six week promotion was to raise R100,000 for breast cancer research. The money coming from a donation from sales on a range of selected ï¿½pinkï¿½ products in the retail stores. Suppliers became sponsors to the promotion and they included Addis who supplied pink watering cans, De Leeuw Roses who provided Pink Iceburg roses, Efecto who supplied pink packaged fertilizer, Rosendal Farms who supplied pink perennial plants and Mayford Seeds who provided Pink Cosmos seeds. The magazines under the guidance of Margie-May Rigby provided articles on ï¿½A Palette of Pinkï¿½ providing consumers with plant information, ï¿½Indigenous Pinksï¿½ on local pink flora, plus articles on the Garden Pavilion garden centres in each region. The magazines go to all garden centres in South Africa and Swaziland as well as news stands and bookstores. This meant that the group had huge exposure and were even promoted in garden centres who were their competitors. I came across stories where non Garden Pavilion garden centres were breaking open the magazine sleeves and removing the promotion. In House marketing The Garden Pavilion garden centres then developed leaflets and arranged leaflet drops to promote the ï¿½Pinkï¿½ campaign. I had the opportunity to work with the garden centre group while the campaign was running and to see what was happening in store. Each of the 29 stores were given the opportunity to develop there own local marketing campaign and merchandising strategy and as one would expect the approaches were completely different. The flyer itself followed the pink theme and promoted the free pair of gloves on the front cover. In house displays were positioned in prime locations within the stores. It was interesting to gauge the consumers reaction to the promotion. I was seeing an increase in the average sale per customer as once they realized that this was for a cause close to their hearts they were pleased to spend more for a good cause. This was evident in the fact that the money was raised in three weeks rather than the planned four weeks. Some retailers actually ran out of stock in the first week of the promotion. Lessons learned The main lesson learned by the group was that they did not have to compete on price. South Africa is being exposed at present to mass retailers who are entering the garden category and the members have been nervous about the future. This gave the retailers confidence to look at other promotional events that touch the heart of the consumer and not to rely purely on price lead advertising to attract the new consumer. As competition gets more competitive we will all need to look at new ways to obtain wallet share in the market place. This means looking at what are the concerns of our consumers and how we can build bridges to get them to come to our store as we are more in tune with their thinking process than other retailers in the marketplace who sell the same things. Consumers are looking for more than price, they are looking for retailers who they feel care about the same issues they do.