What do consumers say it will take to get them to shop at garden centers? Many ideas came from the
consumer survey participants in the 10% Project: Expanding The Customer Base. Here’s a sampling:
- Ideas that can be copied without a lot of knowledge.
- Don’t assume customers understand how to garden.
- Guilt-free help from knowledgeable staff.
- Affordable prices/coupons.
- Clean up the store.
- Host customer events with the new customer 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. One participant 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. Once they are in the store, keep them coming back.
How To Encourage More Frequent Visits
Many traditional garden centers aren’t any further away than the box store, they just need to give consumers a reason to stop by more frequently. Two initial thoughts on how to encourage more frequent visits are:
1. Frequency-based loyalty program (or card) that focuses on visits vs. purchases.
For example, after 10 visits, customers will receive a free plant or pot. The findings suggest that if you can get consumers in the door, they will invariably purchase something. The problem is they think of the garden retailer as a place for big purchases vs. one offs and small purchases.
Perhaps consider a loyalty program that encourages repeat visits, not purchases. What about a punch card and after 10 visits, customers receive a free plant or container of their choosing?
2. Change the perception that garden stores are for big purchases.
This could be done with either an implementation strategy (changing some aspects of your store and store environment) or a messaging or communication strategy (drive home that you are there for small purchases, as well).
A few ideas for an implementation strategy:
- Consider having an express checkout line (two items or less) or self-service/ bar code swipe?)
- 15 minute parking places in front
- A call in or drive-through window if people want to call and place an order.
A few ideas for a messaging strategy
- “XX Nurseries for all your big and small needs and purchases”
- Reinforce the changes you are making in the store: “Now With Express Checkout” or “15 minute Parking So You Can Get In And Out Quickly”
In an ideal situation, you will have both a communication strategy (to get them in) and an implementation strategy (to support that message).
As part of the 10% Project: Expanding The Customer Base, we asked focus groups of consumers under 49 years old about their garden shopping habits and attitudes.