Understand How Potential Garden Center Customers Think: 10% Project
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Understand How Potential Garden Center Customers Think: 10% Project



Do you think you know the ideal marketing messages and methods to capture the attention of today’s new consumer? Today's Garden Center's 10% Project: Expanding The Customer Base has conducted focus ...

Do you think you know the ideal marketing messages and methods to capture the attention of today’s new consumer? Today's Garden Center's 10% Project: Expanding The Customer Base has conducted focus groups within key consumer demographics to learn what they think about gardening and garden centers.

In this presentation, learn the results: what keeps them from gardening more often, why they like big box stores and what they think you should be doing to attract them to your store. Michigan State's Bridget Behe and Emory University's Susan Hogan share the findings.



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Understand How Potential Garden Center Customers Think: 10% Project Understand How Potential Garden Center Customers Think: 10% Project Presentation Transcript

  • Understand How Your Potential Customers Think
  • The Research Team Carol Miller Editor Today’s Garden Center Susan Hogan Actionable Results Research & Adjunct Prof. Marketing, Emory University Bridget Behe Professor Dept. of Horticulture Michigan State University
  • Thank you to our sponsor, AmericanHort, and to the USDA and the Ohio Department of Agriculture, which partially funded this research.
  • Webinar Controls
  • Webinar Controls
  • Understand How Your Potential Customers Think
  • Our Goals • Increase the diversity (starting with age) of the customer base. • Understand what they want and how they “garden.” • Unearth the barriers to activity and purchase. • Identify the likeliest of potential customers and lure them into action!
  • Peter Drucker on Demographics “Managers have known for a long time that demographics matter, but they have always believed that population statistics change slowly. In this century, however, they don’t. Indeed, the innovation opportunities made possible by changes in the numbers of people – and in their age distribution, education, occupations, and geographic location – are among the most rewarding and least risky of entrepreneurial pursuits.” Source: Peter F. Drucker, 2002, “The Discipline of Innovation,” Harvard Business Review (Aug):95-102.
  • Changes in U.S. Age Groups 40 Percent of population 35 Under 19 20-44 45-64 65-84 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2004, “U.S. Interim Projections by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin” http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/usinterimproj/<
  • Age Subcultures • GI or WWII Generation (before 1933) accounts for 10% of the population, mostly over age 80 • Swing Generation (1934 to 1945) 12%; 68 to 79 • Baby Boomers (1946-1964) 25%; 49 to 67 yrs. • Generation X (1965 to 1976) 17%; 37 to 48 yrs. • Gen Y or Millennial Generation (1977 to 1995) 25%; ages 18 to 36 today • Post-Millennials (1996 to present) 11%, 17 and under
  • Percent of Households Buying 50 45 40 35.1 Annuals Vegetables Herbs 35 29 30 25 25 20 17.2 15 15 10 5.7 5 0 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Sources: National Gardening Association, multiple annual surveys
  • Category Average spending 2006: Average spending 2011: Lawn Care $190 $169 Flower Gardening $80 $66 Indoor Houseplants $38 $36 Vegetable Gardening $54 $56 Flowering Bulbs $41 $36 Tree Care $144 $151 Landscaping $397 $224 Container Gardening $54 $48 Herb Gardening $25 $27 $447 in total $355 in total Adjusted for inflation (all in 2011 dollars) Sources: National Gardening Association, multiple annual surveys
  • Steps in our investigation 1. Review existing published and private literature 2. Initial discovery groups Jan. 11-13 (2013) in Atlanta 3. Submitted three research proposals to USDA SCBG Programs in Georgia, Ohio and Michigan 4. Conducted focus groups in Ohio (Nov. 2013) 5. Translate findings into retailer activities 6. Monitor impact of activities on revenue
  • Quick Background On The Online Focus Groups • Used GutCheck to coordinate our online communities. Incentive for their time ($100). • Mothers of children ages 2-12, 18-29 year olds, 30-49 year olds. • Respondent target was 20 per group (ended up with 112 total, participation varied by day and group) • Conducted over three days, they typed answers to our questions and we could follow-up. • Struggled to fill the 18-29 group.
  • 4 Key Findings
  • 1. Attitudes To Gardening The good news is that more than half (56%) of respondents enjoy gardening! Now… How do we get them to do more of it? And shop at the local garden center? And shop often? 1 (hate it) 2 Moms (25 respondents) 0% 20% 18-29 (20 respondents) 0% 15% 30-49 (26 respondents) 4% (1) 0% Total (71 respondents) 1% (1) 8 3 4 5 (adore it) 20% 36% 24% 40% 30% 15% 35% 46% 15% 22 27 13
  • Gardening Positives (73 Respondents) Nature: Love of Nature / Sunshine / Fresh Air/ OutdoorsAttuned with … Stress Reliever/ Time to Relax / Calm / Relaxed / Easy Going /Therapeutic 7 9 7 6 Hard Working / Dedicated / Motivated / Disciplined/ good work ethic / … Patient / Patience/ willingness to stick with it / ability to look long term Clean / Beautiful Yards / Pretty Landscape and Plants / House Looks … Fresh Vegetables / Food / No pesticides Eco-Friendly / Earth Conscience / Organic Living / caring for… 8 Health Conscious 5 Sharing / Friendly: Share with Family/friends / Family Oriented (3-4)/… Caring / Kindness / Tenderness / Nice / Thoughtful/helpful / nice Beauty / Growing / to look at Family / Family oriented 0 Mom's (25 Respondents) 18-29 (20 Respondents) 5 10 15 30-49 (28 Respondents) 20 25
  • Gardening Is A Chance To Relax • Many also enjoyed the solitary nature of gardening (an escape). • One respondent took her coffee each Saturday morning at 10:30 am and worked her way through her garden.
  • What’s fun about gardening? • Eating the produce grown was a common answer. – Jen W (30-49): “Making great dishes with the food you have grown.” • • • • Designing and creating a garden Picking out the plants to use – shopping! Making the yard beautiful. Other responses include: Seeing the effort pay off (success), living off the land/being self-sustaining; being outdoors, improving the property value, spending time with the family.
  • Gardening Stirs Family Memories • Most have childhood memories (mostly pleasant) of working with parents and/or grandparents. Most often mother or grandmother was mentioned. • Older participants reminisced about this time with specific activities or plant memories which created powerful associations, family ties, strong bonds.
  • Gardening And Generations Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net Sam M (30-49): “I would enjoy it more if my sons realized how much they will miss our interaction in gardening and so appreciate it more. My parents won’t be around much longer, so it hits me. The time gardening, raking leaves, turning soil, fiddling in the flower beds… You remember what your grandparents’ houses looked like at different times of seasons.”
  • Gardening Offers Family Time With Kids • Moms want to garden with their children. Under age 5 it is not easy over age 13 they are distracted. • Moms mentioned family time and teachable moments most often. Having fun was another reason to invite kids (playing in dirt, picking out plants). Amusingly, several cited getting free labor as a reason to involve kids.
  • Gardening Negatives (74 Respondents) None Time Consuming / Too Busy to Garden 5 4 Dirt / Getting Dirty / Mud/ dirt under one's nails 4 3 Too Obsessed with Garden/ don't want others on it / kids with … 4 Hard Work and Commitment / A lot of Work Anti-Social/ Recluse /loners 4 Expensive 3 Forget about other / neglecting other aspects of their life /takes… Old People / Little Old Ladies Knowledge (need the knowledge to garden) (time to learn) Too Much Time on Hands (perceived as) / nothing else to do / not… 0 Moms (26 Respondents) 5 18-29 (20 Respondents) 10 15 20 25 30-49 (28 Respondents) 24
  • The Dark Side Of Gardening • • • • • • • • • Lack of time (people are busy)! You get dirty Hard work! Gardening is hard on the back and knees. Gardeners are perceived a recluses, unbalanced Too many weeds, insects, disease, animals Dealing with poor weather emerged several times It takes a lot of space It’s expensive I don’t know what I’m doing – makes me feel ignorant.
  • 2. To Them, What’s A Typical Gardener? Some see a white-haired woman with a floppy hat and knee pads. Jennifer O. (Moms group): “In my mind, a 'typical' gardener is a beautiful silver-haired woman. She dresses fun and comfortable. She is a true artist of her own domain; her yard. She gets up before the sun, enjoys her morning coffee and gears up with her gloves and tools to begin her day in her yard; her paradise."
  • Perceived Fit with 'typical gardener' 70% 62% 60% 50% 40% 40% 40% 40% 33% 30% 20% 16% 14% 10% 7% 0% 0% 5% 7% 10% 7% 10% 4% 7% 0% 0% Yes No Moms (25 Respondents) Other Don't Know What Typical Gardener Is 18 - 29 year Olds (21 Respondents) Maybe Not Now but maybe later 30 - 49 year olds (30 Respondents)
  • Gardening Serves Multiple Needs Ray P. (30-49 group): “I think a typical gardener is the person who lives in the suburbs and has a garden for both pleasure and raising their own vegetables. I don't think that an income level dictates who does their own gardening. I have friends who barely make ends meet but yet do not attempt to grow their own flowers or vegetables. I have other friends who live very comfortably and still insist on growing vegetables themselves. I know equal numbers of men and women who enjoy gardening.”
  • Old Lady Image Is Not Universal Max M. (18-29 group): “More of a mindset than physical attribute. Takes commitment and a strong will, as well as an adventurous side to try new things. Can have any lifestyle, although it definitely helps to have a yard even if it's small.”
  • The Good And Bad Of Gardener Perceptions Positive images: Patient, nurturing, caring, hard-working, visionary (social activity with family and friends, likes to entertain and share). Negative images: Older or hippie/hipster (recluse) or gardening is dirty and timeconsuming Could Go Either Way: • Relaxed lifestyle, time on their hands • Perfectionist who cares about appearances
  • 3. Where are they shopping? Purchase Locations in Past Year 85% 90% 82% 80% 70% 60% 64% 52% 50% 54% 52% 59% 57% 50% 40% 30% 18% 20% 11% 10% 4% 5% 0% 5% 4% 5% 4% 0% Locally Owned, Free Standing Garden Center Store (e.g. Home Depot, Lowes)Walmart, Kroger) Home Improvement or Hardware Supermarket or Grocery Store (Target, Internet Moms (27 respondents) 18-29 (22 respondents) Print Catalog 30 - 49 (28 respondents) Someplace Else
  • Store Choice Reasons (77 Respondents) Convenience / Convenient Location / Closest to where I live / On my Bus Route / Impulse Buy/ One Stop Shop 6 Prices / Value (Great, Good; Best; low; inexpensive) / Best Value/ Plants on Sale 7 Variety / Selection/ Diversity everything I need (giant selections) 8 Quality /Healthy / BeautifulPlants 25 19 9 1 0 9 Like to Buy Locally to Support our home grown suppliers / directly affects my community 17 13 10 People / Customer Service: Knowledgable/ Helpful / like what they Do/ Know them 26 20 7 1 0 Read Reviews/ Research/ Look at Pictures 0 0 10 20 30 40 Locally Owned Home Improvement / Hardware Store Supermarket or Grocery Store Internet Print Catalog Unclear which Store Someplace Else 50 60 70
  • Why They Choose Where They Buy Gardening Goods • Shopping where it is convenient for them. Box stores mentioned most often. • Also talked a lot about getting a good deal as price was a big concern (risk and luck). • Selection and one-stop shopping were also mentioned quite a bit. This played into some of why a store was perceived as convenient. Tools, fertilizer, knowledge were mentioned but most garden centers have them.
  • 4. Why Am I So Unlucky? Deb B. (30-49): “The very first rose bush that I planted all by myself that 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!”
  • Why Did They Have To Die? Renee S. (18-29): “The thing that I like least about gardening is that sometimes the plants just die, and you just get so upset about it. I could watch the plants and make sure that they are healthy and if I have questions about why my plants are dying I can go to someone that has more experience than I do about them.”
  • Recap: The 4 Key Findings 1. The act of gardening has mostly positive impressions, although there are significant negatives (it’s dirty, it’s hard work) that need to be countered. 2. Consumers have a distinct ideas of the type of person who gardens – and it’s often a limiting viewpoint.
  • Recap: The 4 Key Findings 3. 4. Garden centers are the third most popular place to buy plants, after big boxes and grocery stores. The only exception was for the 30 to 49 year old group of consumers, which preferred local garden centers more than grocery stores. Consumers lack a sense of control when it comes to gardening. They repeatedly used the terms “luck” and “risk” when describing gardening.
  • Let’s Start Talking About What We Can Do With This Information
  • Create Newcomer-friendly Gardening Projects Counter the risky, timeconsuming, reallyhard-to-do, must-bean-expert assumptions many people have about gardening with realistic and Rachel Ray attractive projects. 30 minute meals Sandra Lee Semi-homemade
  • Other Ways To Foster Confidence • Success is attributed to “luck,” so how do we reduce the perceived risk? Any way you can! • Plant guarantees (advertised). Dennis and Behe (2007) showed that the presence of plant guarantees helped reduce perceived risk and improve repeat purchase intentions. • Gardening coach. eMail, telephone, or text, would you like some free advice? Set a limit on the coach.
  • Help Them Be Comfortable With Trying Their First Garden Design How do we simplify the process?
  • Image makeover Break the hard-work and gardener stereotypes with images and models of success. • Visually combine lifestyle and plants – grown-at-home baby food; raised veggie garden next to the back door or garage (grab a tomato on the way in the door). • Create DIY or DIFM solutions to busy families: Affordable dinner party plant decorations; unusual and easy-to-understand front yard bed designs; kid-friendly vegetable gardening.
  • Understand how price and value position your store • Promote value, not price. Promote benefit, not product feature. Show and tell product differentiation from the box store. • When price is the headline, we force consumer attention to price (not value, where it should be.)
  • Encourage Repeat Visits Once you get them in store, how do you keep ‘em coming back for more? • Loyalty Programs – (10 VISITS = free plant or pot of choice (from certain selection) • Schedule follow-up meeting before they leave • ‘I’m here next Saturday –same time – want to come in for a follow-up conversation? Let me know how things are going! – Events: have them say/fill out what kind of events they would like in an exit survey – before they leave
  • What THEY say it will take to get them in the door • • • • • • Ideas that can be copied without a lot of knowledge Don’t assume customers understand how to garden Freebies Guilt-free help from knowledgeable staff Affordable prices/coupons Clean up the store
  • Host events with the customers in mind • • • • • Consider participating or hosting events and activities tied to the home. Have an early spring garden show at the garden center highlighting new plants and products. Think of a mini flower show. Classes for first-timers, beginners, novices. Bring a friend? Inter-generational activities. Lisa B. (Moms) said, “Maybe {an activity} that I could take my grandson with me and we could do a project together.” Organize block parties in customers’ neighborhoods for produce or plant swapping.
  • In-Store Collaborations 47
  • Their suggestions for events at a garden center • Flower shows • New product demonstrations • New-gardener-oriented seminars – continuing-education format and single classes • Competitions • Plant swaps • Kid-focused events, especially those that involve both adults and kids together • How to make the most of your harvests
  • Consider out-of-store activities 49
  • Next Steps 1. Gather feedback from retailers on this data • What consumer attitudes were most important? • What type of marketing ideas would help most – messages, materials, actions? 2. Learn which data partner garden centers are collecting and how they apply the information 3. Develop marketing ideas and tactics that can be adapted by individual stores and share it with the industry 4. Train retailers on how to measure their marketing efforts 5. The research team will measure the results at Ohio stores
  • Watch For Ongoing 10% Project Reports In 2014 1. January: Online articles recapping what we’ve learned from the research. TodaysGardenCenter.com 2. February 11. Webinar on how to implement marketing messages designed to increase the customer base and how to measure the results. 3. February: Article in Today’s Garden Center on what we’ve learned so far and the marketing game plan. 4. September: Cover stories in Today’s Garden Center sharing the results of the real-world testing of the 10% Project 5. October: eBook examining which marketing messages and tactics were most effective in expanding the customer base for garden centers.
  • Thank You