Contain Your Excitement

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Contain Your Excitement

I started my working year in Seattle, the home of the sitcom “Frasier”. Apart from presenting a workshop for garden retailers in Washington State, Oregon, Utah and British Columbia I also worked for the award winning Swansons Garden Centre (Nursery Retailer Garden Centre of the Year in the U.S.A. for 2007). Swansons is situated in Suburban Seattle and surrounded by a mix of cranes building condominiums and already built condominiums. This trip really brought home to me the marketing opportunities that are opening up in the industry and the Swansons team are definitely taking advantage of this. The Sooth Sayers would argue that condominium living means no gardens and therefore no need for garden centres. But, by nature, human beings want to be surrounded by living things and therefore the optimists would argue that this is a marketing opportunity and I’m definitely in the optimist’s camp. Intensive Living Opportunities The global trend in living is for consumers to downsize. This means smaller gardens or no gardens are becoming the trend. This may be a problem for retailers trying to promote large trees and lawn products to urban dwellers, but it also opens up the opportunity to sell living patio products and indoor living gardens. This new market means a rethink for many suppliers. How do you increase sales and maximize profits? Historically, we are used to selling an indoor plant in a plastic pot or a patio plant with a pot. In the future we need to rethink the whole package if grower and retailer are to prosper. Rethinking – The Growers Perspective Indoor plant sales should increase if the plant is presented in the correct way. Many growers and retailers have seen a decline in sales in this category, but when you examine the presentation of some of the products on offer, it is not a surprise. In South Africa, at least one grower has overcome the problem. This grower provides the retailer with a finished product. Plants arrive already potted up in clean ceramic containers, all the retailer has to do is put the plant on the display shelf and “watch it fly”. I realize other growers around the world are doing the same, but there is still a high percentage who are still expecting the retailer to finish the product, often these retailers do not have the time or vision. As a result everyone loses along the supply chain. Rethinking – The Retailers Perspective Consumers expectations are changing and not all consumers are the same. Today’s retailer has to think about generational marketing as well as individual customer needs. Apart from generational marketing, which I have discussed in previous articles, as far as container gardening is concerned, consumers can be divided into three specific groups. The Do it Yourself Brigade These guys want to buy the individual pieces of the jigsaw. They want to see the completed jigsaw and then buy the pieces so they can make an identical jigsaw. Let me explain, they want to see an example of a finished container garden and then surrounding the finished container they want to see all the elements merchandised so they can “select” their pieces and copy the example provided by the garden centre manager. This means the plants, pots and mulch need to be merchandised next to each other on the display. The Do it For Me Brigade These guys have not got the time to build jigsaws they want to buy the ready made picture. They will expect you to provide an array of finished planted container gardens that they can select from, purchase and take home straight away. Price is not a key motivator, saving time is the motivator. The “I’m Unique” Brigade There is a third, often neglected group, the individuals who want their own specific unique jigsaw. They will walk into your garden centre and expect a designer to be able to create a unique patio garden that is exclusive to them. This means you will need a “design station” where you have samples of finished container gardens and all the equipment and materials at hand to be able to provide the service they require. This group is the least price sensitive of all consumers; in fact, they want to spend more as they are buying their own living art piece. To enter this end of the market you need to ensure you have the right skills in your team. In fact a florist is going to be more valuable to you rather than a horticulturalist. This is flower arranging with roots. Don’t be a Purist Container gardening is fun and allows you to be adventurous. The old rules of this goes with that, based on horticultural requirements can be thrown out, as this is “flower arranging with roots”. The consumer is looking for seasonal statements and many want to change these arrangements with the seasons and in some cases, after each party. By presenting the right collection of plants, containers and mulches to the consumer the average unit sale can go up dramatically, if you can convince them that you can really increase the lifetime value of the customer at the same time. Plus, the more closely people start living together, the more customers you’ll have in your target area. This is a wonderful marketing opportunity for all urban garden retailers. John Stanley is an internationally recognised conference speaker and retail consultant with over 25 years experience in 18 countries. He has authored several successful marketing and retail books including the best seller Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know. For more information John Stanley and his services visit his website www.johnstanley.cc