‘‘If I’d have asked the people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’’- Henry Ford
Having made acquaintance with our newest consumers, we can tailor our offerings by balancing what they think they want with what they actually need to thrive with their new gardening hobby.
Whilst we cannot account for every conceivable sub-division of new gardener, social media quickly uncovers two, distinct, variations; those whose new-found interest stems from a love of houseplants (Plant Parents), and those for whom it originates from house-proudness (Garden Decorators).
For the Plant Parents, this might mean putting together ‘How To’ videos for a particular project, linked to a shopping list of required components. For the Garden Decorators, it is more likely an instant impulse, ‘here’s one I made earlier’ style solution in line with current colour trends.
For both, tailoring our offerings to fit around their recommenced commute will be vital.
Aligning ourselves with our new customers’ lifestyle in this way, then nurturing them through their aspirations offers our best chance of keeping them engaged. To do so is as much an opportunity as an obligation.
Retaining lockdown gardeners may offer a long-overdue opportunity to command a stronger margin from our businesses: these consumers are not beholden to the perceived ceiling prices of our pre-existing customer, who battle every penny of price increase (our 1996 catalogue shows many prices higher than present).
A prime example can be seen through a company called Growbar. Market value for 70 sunflower seeds seems around £1.35, meaning price-per-seed below 2p. Growbar take 15 such seeds, embed them in a tiny block of coir, wrap it in pretty packaging and market it like an artisan chocolate bar. Through gifting sites such as notonthehighstreet, they command £12 per bar. The equivalent of 80p per seed and a 4000 per cent mark up.
The product is visually appealing, but also promises easy success. The imagery, presentation and choice of market spin an inexpensive commodity into something that feels far more expensive: a prime example of how these new customers could offer an escape from our financial compression.
But it must be appreciated that any such success lies as much in the hands of the marketeers as the horticulturists.