Montgomery's Charlotte Retail Report
Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery recently visited Charlotte, N.C., a market Metrolina Greenhouses dominates, and he toured garden centers at Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart to get a feel for the fall product. Montgomery also stopped into Pike N
November 6, 2009
Home Depot featured two pumpkin-face containers - a 10-inch
and a 12-inch - that were interesting items with a Halloween theme.
Click here for more photos from Jerry Montgomery.
Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery visited Charlotte, N.C., in late October and toured garden centers at Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart to see the fall product. He also stopped into Pike Nurseries. Below are his findings, and you can view a slideshow of Montgomery's Charlotte tour here:
Much like Atlanta, Charlotte has been plagued with rain and unseasonably cold temperatures. The two days I was there, night temperatures were in the high 30s and the day temperature was 52°F and 62°F on Sunday. Stores were well stocked with garden mums, pansies and other fall plants.
Charlotte is a market Metrolina Greenhouses dominates. Metrolina is the vendor for Lowe's and Walmart in the area. In this market, you see some of the best product quality and merchandising. Quality and merchandising are second to none.
These stores are some of the cleanest, neatest and best merchandised Lowe's stores in the country. The product quality is outstanding, as well.
A great selection of patio pots from 7.98 to 23.98 featured outstanding product quality and were, of course, expertly merchandised. In these stores, you see a real emphasis on the end caps that are highest impact areas.
Lowe's offered a Majestic Giant premium pansy program in a quart and 1-gallon sizes merchandised in blocks of color for a very effective display. The Majestic Giant program features colorful pots and a large locking label, and all plants were full of flowers. We did see a few of the Rebound Pansies but the Majestic Giant SKU was far more dominant.
Home Depot offered a range of garden mums and pansies in an array of sizes and pricepoints with the 209 Pansy SKU seemingly as the best value. Home Depot had more focus on the outside aprons with far less impact inside the garden center. Home Depot featured two pumpkin-face containers - a 10-inch and a 12-inch - that were interesting items with a Halloween theme.
Much like Atlanta, garden centers did not use all their floor space for green goods. Walmart appeared to be very focused on inventory control. The product quality and merchandising was way above average, and Walmart focused on the pricepoints of less than $5 retail. Still, the stores had a nice offering of larger sizes in the $10-$20 range.
Only one Pike Nurseries store is located in Charlotte, but you could again see the Armstrong touch with very good merchandising and above average POS signage. As we observed in Atlanta, Pike Nurseries is staffed with knowledgeable and friendly personnel that goes out of its way to provide customers the information they need.
Charlotte is interesting because it is the home territory for Metrolina Greenhouses, arguably one of the few premier vendors to the national retailers. The merchandising in Lowe's was second to none with well-organized displays, high-impact end caps, above-average packaging and excellent product quality. Walmart stores were some of the best in the country with excellent product quality, neat displays and sizes and pricepoints that speak to its customer base.
In marketing programs, Lowe's offered a 1-quart and 1-gallon Majestic Giant Pansy program that was well packaged, heavily flowered and displayed in color blocks. It was the only item we observed that was sold by variety with all other pansies offered generically.
The Ready Refill patio container program at Lowe's was an interesting way to create repeat sales, offering refills for all four seasons using the one container. The consumer can have a year-round patio container with refills available for less than $20.
Even with poor weather, there was a lot of good products at the three national retailers. However, we did see a number of pansy displays with little to no color. One of the SKUs that was above average in color and quality was the 209 Pansy at Home Depot from Stacy's Greenhouse.
Table 1. Retailers Visited
||Store Number||City||Annual Vendor||Perennial Vendor|
Table 2. Retail Prices, Charlotte, N.C.
|Pumpkin face planter||10-inch||17.97|
|Rebound Pansy||1 G||4.98|
** Refill supports a patio container program Ready Refill in which the customer selects a container and Lowe's offers a drop in refill for each season.
About the author: Jerry Montgomery is a 40-year veteran of the floriculture industry and has worked for distributor companies, breeders and large growers specializing with a focus on sales and marketing. As an industry consultant, he works for large growers, distributors and breeder/producers. His focus is to understand the market dynamics from breeder to consumer through intense retail travel, visiting almost 1,500 stores since January 2008.