Consumers under 49 years old often think success in gardening is a result of luck. This is one of the findings of Today’s Garden Center’s 10% Project: Expanding The Customer Base.
The research team was quite surprised to hear the word “luck” being equated with success repeatedly in the interviews.
Deb B. (30- to 49-year-olds) summarizes the attitudes of many participants: “The very first rose bush that I planted all by myself actually survived! Until that point, I had had extremely bad luck with roses, and was all but ready to throw in the towel. Then I was at Lowe’s one day and I saw this gorgeous rose bush with a single flower on it, and I thought, ‘No, Deb, it doesn’t deserve to die…’ but then impulse won over and I bought it anyway. I brought it home and planted it carefully, and the next year it had buds and new growth!”
Another term, “risk,” cropped up a number of times. Because they felt they had so little control over the ultimate outcome of their landscaping efforts, the amount of time and money invested was seen as a risk to be weighed. When there is confidence that most of the plants will not only thrive but also perform as expected, gardeners focus more on the outcome and less on the effort given.
This team could not identify another product category where product failure resulted in death and people had to be lucky to be successful. The notion of needing a green thumb to be a successful gardener is alive and well.
Create Newcomer-Friendly Gardening Projects
Cooking can be as daunting as gardening. It takes time to prepare some dishes and you make a mess in the kitchen. However, Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee have made names for themselves in the kitchen by reducing the time-consuming and messy aspects of cooking.
Why can’t we do the same for gardening? We need to counter the risky, time-consuming, really-hard-to-do, must-be-an-expert assumptions many people have about gardening with realistic and attractive projects.
We need to show consumers how to put some plants together, in a basket or box or in the ground, and get the right combinations into the right locations. If they are successful with a simple combination, we increase their confidence and encourage a repeat purchase.
Foster confidence and let them understand there is learning that comes from gardening ‘failures’
There aren’t many other industries where so much of customer success is attributed to “luck.” So, how do we reduce the perceived risk? Any way we can!
Advertise your plant guarantees. A study by J.H. Dennis and Bridget Behe (2007) showed that the presence of plant guarantees helped reduce perceived risk and improve repeat purchase intentions.
Offer a gardening coach. This can be done by sign-up or subscription and could be handled by eMail, telephone or text. Ask customers if they would like some free advice. To keep it manageable, set a limit on the coaching time.
Now What Can We Do?
The second part of our Expanding The Customer Base project is to take this information and develop some recommendations that are transformed into activities that traditional garden centers can use. In the coming months, we will develop these findings into action-based activities and work with garden centers in Ohio and volunteer garden centers from other parts of the country to see how doing things differently can make a difference in sales and profits.
Editor’s Note: As part of Today’s Garden Center’s 10% Project: Expanding The Customer Base, we asked focus groups of consumers under 49 years old about their garden shopping habits and attitudes.This article is the fourth on the key findings gathered from the research.