National Gardening Survey: What’s Not to Like?

Aug 12, 2016 10 Comments

As regular readers of the blog probably know, this is my fifth year of analyzing and commenting on the National Gardening Survey’s annual 250+ page market research report of the what, who, where and how-much of the nation’s gardening industry. I wrote an article published this month in Green Profit magazine on what we found … you can click here: GreenProfit_July2016_NGSOverview – to download the full article. (Sneak peek: “a bold, exciting future for garden retail!”

Once you’ve read it, let’s chat:  leave a comment letting me know what you see on the horizon from your store’s viewpoint!

  1. John Heaton
    Aug 13, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Always good to get the results of real investigation. It both validates and projects what we are seeing. Even more vegetables, fruit trees, small fruits and always in stock herbs.

    Information is key, it must be accurate to the point and believable and available when the customer would like it..

    1. Ian Baldwin
      Aug 13, 2016 at 5:04 pm

      John, as always I appreciate you taking the time to add your thoughts and experiences here. You are correct about information being key and I would add that the garden retail business MUST deliver that information in the “space” that younger consumers want to receive it. The reality here seems almost contradictory with younger customers expecting how-to info on blogs and YouTube, then showing up in increasing numbers for hands-on classes and workshops in the stores. Are you finding this too?

  2. Jay Degraff
    Aug 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Great interpretation article on the results. We are an information intensive industry that is having a harder and harder time attracting interested people to dispense or interpret that information in such a way that younger customers look to us for real results and solutions. Hopefully we are relevant enough and keep the interest of a younger shopper

  3. Ian Baldwin
    Aug 13, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Jay, I hear you on the subject of attracting interested people, especially when competing against much higher-paying industries like you have to in CA.

    With regard to supplying “real results and solutions” to younger customers, I always thought that state certification programs like the excellent California Certified Nurseryperson were a very credible answer. Knowing your business, I think you have won the “decorating” aspect of your local gardening market, would an assertive CCN promotion/message/position help win the “garden success center” market for you too?

  4. Maureen Murphy
    Aug 15, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Regarding a fresh resurgence of interest in plants and presenting the information in a way they want to receive it…I am excited to be starting work on revamping our nursery yard to create “theme” shopping, organizing plants for a purpose, for self serve shopping. With the cost of labor going up and up, we don’t have enough knowledgable staff to hold every hand for 20 minutes. Excited to be putting into action some of the concepts I’ve gleaned from your comments about this subject. I think the younger crowd will really benefit. Onward and upward!

    1. Ian Baldwin
      Aug 15, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Thank you Maureen for your support. Unless the trade can just hike prices up faster than costs including, but not limited to, labor, there is little choice of strategy as I see it. We have to adapt the model that has served us well for 40 years, but thankfully this just happens to align so well with the next generation’s way of shopping anyway. The outcome will be a return to the small, local garden retailer being the local how-to-succeed-in-the-garden expert – which is how most of us started in the first place! Exciting Thymes!

  5. Ernest Wertheim
    Aug 16, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Ian; as you know I am somehow disabled and have no been able to read the full report but hope to so soon.

    Our garden center retail industry is so diversified and influenced by the weather and region that surveys do not always apply to every garden center.In my social circle of young people 22 to 35 the parents pay a lot of attention to their children which means that they have limited time for gardening..If the parents are interested in gardening or growing fruit and vegetables than we are able to interest the children which means we may get them as our customers.Some garden centers have created children programs which helped to get the parents to the garden centers.When Orchard nursery opened in 1954 we had a play grounds and this continued in many garden centers. You mat remember Alden Lane had a wonderful program,but very few of those are existing to day. You may remember van Hages in the UK who created some wonderful model gardens. WE did this for Wiegands. One of the gn centers in Berlin, i forgot the namehad extensive model gardens tat attrated a lot of attention,, but after a few years died.Those gardens are expensive and very effective but seem to die due to cost of maintenance and lack of passion.

    1. Ian Baldwin
      Aug 17, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Ernest, we wish you a speedy recovery and thank you for taking the time here to join in the conversation.

      Yes, between us we have seen various attempts in garden retail to show the end-result of DIY gardening and they have mostly failed as you say. Some were too grand in style, more landscape architecture or installed product demo’s than weekend projects for the average homeowner. Some were too botanical or expensive to maintain but we can’t give up. Just like the furniture, tile, kitchen and bath retailers we have to show the end result in some way and make it easy to succeed in bite-sized, small project pieces. The garden business has so many positive influences on it’s side from healthy eating to supporting small and local that garden retailers MUST deliver the inferred joy of what a successful outdoor garden space can be. That’s the value proposition. You know it, I know it, now we have to convince 80+ million young consumers it can be done and worth the time and money. Thanks again and best wishes from us both.

  6. Ron Vanderhoff
    Aug 16, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    My favorite section: “. . . the local expert is becoming the information validator rather than an original provider. Not only should this speed up the shopping experience, it changes the role of the LGC. Shopping is becoming discovery – online, validation – in-store.”

    I have read this about six times and it is still sinking in. A big shift!

    Ron, Roger’s Gardens

  7. Ian Baldwin
    Aug 17, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Ron, as a retail veteran and regular thought-sharer on here I appreciate you admitting the size of the shift facing us!

    Not having a real job or working in the trenches like most, I try to see where business conditions might dictate a strategic change and I find the future for the garden trade stimulating, with almost a sense of relief. The future model could be much simpler than the current 40 year old one but owners and teams will have to embrace change at a speed they have not shown in the past. This will force some out of the race (Olympian analogies today….) but the nimble survivors will have huge opportunities.

    I am sure Rogers Gardens will be in the lead group coming around the final bend….! Best wishes for Fall.

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