The Buying Landscape

Hot off the presses, I have in my hands a copy of the 2006 Grapevine Survey by the American Nursery and Landscape Association and sponsored by Standpoint Marketing Research and Swanson Russell Associates. The goal of this research is to find out a little more about today’s consumer — how their spending habits change, how age affects spending and who is gardening. It’s the dreaded DIY versus DIFM versus DSOIFM debate.

Much of the findings seem to center around landscaping — it’s getting bigger, as neither Baby Boomers nor new, younger home owners want to aerate the lawn or lay down mulch. The Do It For Me Market is growing, the report says, and homeowners are spending less time and money on gardening. What can growers do about it, being so far removed from the consumer?

The report suggests higher-priced, higher-value products. Growing more mixed containers and hanging baskets is an option. It also suggests appealing to new market segments (Gen Y, anyone?) and new channels of distribution (there are those landscapers again).

As Allan talks about in his column this month (see page 80), the Grapevine Survey also recognized the desire for instant gratification. People will pay for a desired end result — the traditional and country gardens they see on HGTV. And the way to get to those consumers to spend is to show them how and where to use the product. We’re talking about consumer-friendly point-of-purchase materials. Young homeowners want hip. And your products are hip! Hip in hiding. A well-designed package for a plant, yes, foo-foo feathers and beads will help make the sale. 

Where To Shop?

So if the number of people that hire landscapers grows every year, are gardens doomed to be filled with the same old three or four bedding plant genera? The survey says no. Growers can help the locally-owned garden center reinforce itself as the "destination channel for the new and different." Garden centers are urged by survey results to be hip, too. "Adopt a more youthful and contemporary positioning if the experience justifies it," the report says. "‘This is not your grandmother’s garden center,’ for example."

The report also predicts that because of the increasing financial risk of doing business with box stores, more of you will shift to the garden center retail channel, especially when introducing new varieties.

And as landscaping grows, the report predicts that at least some landscapers will find themselves out of their comfort zones and areas of core competencies. Sounds like those landscapers could use an expert, someone who knows these plants up and down. Maybe a consultant. Know anyone who fits that description?

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