The Garden Media Group (GMG) has released its annual Garden Trends Report for 2016. The report, titled “Syncing With Nature,” identifies eight consumer trends that the group predicts will shake up the garden and outdoor living industry this coming year.
The report finds gardening has transformed into a connected lifestyle in 2016, with the rising millennial generation constantly plugged in.
The eight new trends show ways the gardening and outdoor living industries, including independent garden centers, can lure future consumers — and their digital accessories — outside and connect garden hobbyists with a broader community.
“Consumers are seeking experiences that enhance their wellbeing and support their busy lifestyles,” says Susan McCoy, president of GMG. “When used together, technology can bring people into nature and connect one to the other.” McCoy and GMG market strategist Clint Albin both provided a sneak peek at the 2016 trends report at Cultivate’16 this past July.
The report says that consumers are merging technology with nature, not as a distraction, but as a way to explore, educate and entertain. “Consumers are constantly connected, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s time for the industry to fully embrace technology and all it can do for the garden,” says McCoy. “The more consumers learn about nature, the more they will grow to care about it.”
Being in sync with nature is the first step in a healthy and rewarding lifestyle, according to the report. People have a passion for preserving the earth, and any small change in home landscapes can have a big impact.
What are some of the components fueling this sustainable lifestyle and contributing to eco-friendly gardens and outdoor spaces? GMG identifies eight new trends influencing the garden industry for 2016 and beyond.
1. Connected Greenery. This is all about encouraging garden retailers to embrace technology rather than fighting it. People walk, talk and sleep with their phones, and they are also getting plugged-in outside, syncing garden habits with technology. People want to be successful with plants without a lot of work or information. To do this, they are turning to technology to help grow plants both indoors and in the garden.
In the store, Albin suggests giving your employees a list of approved apps such as Instagram that they can use with customers while they’re at work. “If your plants are Instagram-able, they don’t matter to your younger customers,” says McCoy.
2. NaTECHure. This trend combines two of the hottest trends in education: technology and nature. It encourages the use of virtual and augmented reality to engage kids with gardening, health and fitness in fun, new ways. Whether running, playing or storytelling, this trend has the potential to mobilize a new generation of nature lovers, while getting them outside to play.
3. Welltality. Horticulture is intrinsically tied not just to agriculture, but to health care and wellness. From what we eat to our environment, people want to be happy and healthy in mind, body and soul. From cleaning the air of volatile organic compounds to providing fresh antioxidants at our fingertips, something as simple as edible berries can continue to offer health benefits from plants in homes and gardens. Looking ahead, Albin suggests garden centers an event for July 2016 to tie in with July being National Blueberry Month.
4. Makers’ Lifestyle. The do-it-yourself movement is actually shifting from “doing” to “making.” Homeowners and renters alike want to experience outdoor living in a way that maintains a sense of home and familiarity but personalized to their tastes. They want to engage with outdoor environments in a more hands-on way. And it’s not just outdoors; one example retailers can take advantage of is providing materials for beer and wine making.
5. Backyard Boldness. Taking an individualized approach to outdoor living, people are turning to new customization, lighting and movement to add a sense of whimsy to their yards. Transforming porch swings and swimming pools, homeowners are moving away from subtle, minimalist aesthetics toward designs that heighten sensory appeal. For example, offer masses of multi-colored flowering bulbs that can make the backyard truly pop. Or, if your store is open at night, make sure you have lights for sale.
6. Layered Landscapes. People want to bring their yard back to a more natural habitat, with each plant serving a purpose in supporting local, natural ecosystems, pollinators and other wildlife. Consumers can plant living landscapes of trees, shrubs, flowers, native grasses and ground covers that provide food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, from insects to birds. Creating a safe environment from the ground up is key for a healthy ecosystem. From there, consider displaying your plants at different heights within the same area.
7. Petscaping. Pet owners spend about $60 billion on their pets each year for food, toys and products to keep them healthy and safe. They believe, like eating nutritious food, the safest practice might be to use organic lawn products and limit the use of potentially harmful garden chemicals. Programs like Espoma’s Safe Paws can educate pet parents on having a lush and chemical-free lawn by switching from synthetic fertilizers to organic lawn foods that are safe for people, pets and the planet. Or, how about a “catio,” an outdoor screened enclosure for cats?
8. Precious Resources. The resources that we depend on to garden, particularly water but also less visual ones like time and space, are limited and need protection. How to garden with less water continues to be a top priority. New technologies and plants such as cacti, succulents and unique garden beds like Keyhole from Vita Gardens offer the opportunity to protect and conserve resources with small lifestyle changes that will make an evolutionary impact on the gardening experience.
The complete 2016 Garden Trends Report is available for free download.