The weather in Chicago was perfect and the shoppers were out in huge numbers filling almost every garden center we visited on May 18 to 19, 2013. Home Depot was the most crowded, with a busy parking lot. In looking closely at a number of shopping carts, customers were buying a wide variety of items, including large patio containers and hanging baskets.
In this market, there has been seemingly no impact on the sale of Impatiens walleriana. We observed large inventories in all retail locations.
The main objective of this retail tour was to see the initial launch of the Miracle Gro Syngenta branded annuals. They were on the shelves in every Home Depot, with larger displays in the suburbs than the city stores.
Here is what we saw:
• Two SKUs: a 5-inch annual retailing for $6.98 and a 12-inch fiber hanging basket with Calliope geraniums retailing for $19.98.
• The 5-inch was offered in a Miracle Gro branded pot with a large stick-in label.
• In the 5-inch SKU, there was a mix of basic (seed) annuals and premium (vegetative) annuals with no difference in the retail price point.
• Each pot and label had a clear message: “Premium Plants.”
• All 5-inch items were offered generically (Impatiens Red etc.)
• The 12-inch hanging basket was identified by variety and had a large Miracle Gro label (‘Calliope Dark Red’).
• There were small POS signs on some displays.
• There was a consumer guarantee printed on each pot with an unconditional money back offer.
• Positioning: “Guaranteed gardening success”
Considering all the markets we have visited over the past six years, nowhere have we observed a better-performing retailer than Home Depot in this market, with an offering of annuals that is second to none. The elements that differentiate this retailer from others starts with high-performing vendors that provide a wide assortment of high-quality products.
Just as important, Home Depot has one of the most positive connected merchandising groups you will find anywhere. Here is what we feel makes them so dominant in this market:
• Above average product quality with a lot of wow
• Product assortments that offer more choices than their competitors
• Best assortment of patio containers we have seen anywhere
• Great assortment of premium hanging baskets
• Highly energized interactive merchandising group
• Merchandisers who make it obvious they want to help their customers
When looking around a garden center, one of the elements that is important to notice is price signs and/or pricing labels. Without a doubt, the pricing in these stores is in place more than 99 percent of the time, as well as being accurate. Many handmade price signs are impossible to miss.
Another element of good retailing is making use of the end caps with products that stand out. Clearly, these end caps were some of the best in the country. Outdoor corrals are widely used in this market in May and these vendors have very well-organized corrals that make outdoor shopping a pleasant experience.
In the annuals category, the Garden Club Select brand was the most dominant branded product line. Every store offered small displays of Proven Winners and Wave. Larger packs were very evident, appearing to be positioned to minimize the impact of the OPP 606 SKU. There were displays of 209 packs retailing for $6.98 and 1201s at $9.98.
A lot of the table space in the covered greenhouse area was devoted more to shrubs this year than in the past, especially the Monrovia brand. It seems there is less emphasis on annuals and an increased emphasis on perennials and shrubs.
This year, there is far less Better Homes & Gardens product on the shelves than we observed last year. We saw no Better Homes & Gardens point-of-purchase materials this year, whereas last year it was in every store. Walmart, as always, had more emphasis on their OPP SKUs, but each store did have nice displays of Wave petunias in the signature pink packaging.
Costco was one of the best markets, offering a really nice assortment of premium items, mostly supplied by Leider & Sons.
• 16-inch patio pot. A great value at $29.99
• 12-inch combo hanging baskets looked fantastic
• 12-inch patio geraniums for $17.99
• 12-inch caged patio veggies for $12.59
• Three 1-gallon perennials for $15.99
• Mini Rose Vintage Tin for $15.97
• 12-inch hanging basket for $12.99
• 10-inch hanging basket fern for $10.98
• 12-inch patio pot combo for $16.88
Retail Prices Chicago Market
|Seed Geranium||4 inch||1.48||1.28|
|Proven Winners||4.5 inch||4.98||4.98|
|Garden Club Select||1 pint||2.98|
|Better Homes & Gardens||Quart||3.68|
|Better Homes & Gardens||8 inch||5.68|
|Garden Club Select||Quart||3.98|
|Garden Club Select||1 gallon||5.98|
|Miracle Gro||5 inch||6.98|
|Proven Winners||12 inch||29.98||16.98|
|Miracle Gro||12 inch||19.98|
|Better Homes & Gardens||12 inch||15.98|
|Proven Winners 16 inches||14 inch||39.99||34.98|
|New Guinea Impatiens||6.5 inch||6.98|
|Color Bowls Better Homes & Gardens||8 inch||9.98|
|Proven Winners Calle||14 inch||24.98|
|Two Tier||14 inch||79.98|
|24 inch tall||129.98|
|Garden Club Select perennials||1 gallon||7.98|
|Garden Club Select perennials||8 inches||10.98|
Chicago has to be one of the top markets in the country for Home Depot with more home centers than any competitor and high-performing vendors. You have to assume this is a great growth market. The Miracle Gro brand launch seemingly went well and it was a great choice to launch in the Chicago market where Home Depot has great vendors and store density.
|Home Depot||1908||Bedford Park||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1955||Oak Lawn||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1986||Chicago||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1950||Chicago||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1961||Chicago||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1903||Chicago||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1911||Cicero||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1982||Oakbrook Terrace||Grand Flowers||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1916||Downers Grove||Masterpiece||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1943||Carol Stream||Masterpiece||Hampshire||Bonnie|
|Lowe’s||1738||St. Charles||Mid American||BFN||Bonnie|
|Lowe’s||1821||Carol Stream||Mid American||BFN||Bonnie|
|Walmart||2204||Forest Park||Mid American||Sawyer||Bonnie|
|Walmart||1848||Glen Ellyn||Mid American||Sawyer||Bonnie|
|Walmart||1898||St. Charles||Mid American||Sawyer||Bonnie|