Garden Centre trends: experienced gardener or garden experience?

Gardeners, like garden centre trends, are changing as we move through the baby boomers, generation X, and millennials.
 
It’s important to note that we’re moving from the era of the experienced gardener, to the era of garden experience.

Garden centre trends: are they changing?

garden centre trends
an example of outdoor living

Gardens are becoming the symbols of a life well lived. In the future, gardens will become very powerful symbols of all the good things in life that we enjoy and aspire to.

People want to be the one cutting bouquets from their cut-flower garden as soon as possible.
They see the garden as a place of pleasure and it’s important to get the garden to that stage as soon as possible.

Lifestyle of a garden

Gardens are a lifestyle. They are a place to live life and to be together with friends and family. They are places for shared experiences.
 
Since 2008, examples of people sharing their wedding experiences in gardens have increased. There has also been an increase in gatherings to share food in a garden setting.
 
Gardens are about experience. The ‘experience economy’ is upon us. People are now less willing to by things and more willing to buy experiences.
 
In the future, people will buy less products, and more ‘moments’. It’s now a key time for plants and gardens because plants will never be a materialistic thing. They are living things and planting and caring for them are true experiences.
 
Gardens are about taking the inside outside and expanding a home’s living space. There is a move towards making the garden a cosy space.

Garden Benefits

garden centre trendsGardening brings both mental and physical benefits to people. In the future, we will see gardening therapy. A garden is a place to go to feel transformed, as itself is a place that transforms through the seasons.
 
There is an increase in consumers buying plants with the idea of the produce it will bring. This isn’t only the fruit and vegetables that people have been growing for some time, it’s the cut flowers or the ingredients for cocktails.
 
This means there is a collaboration between a garden and a kitchen. People relate to food in such an instinctive way. It makes gardening to produce end results more exciting.
 
It’s up to garden retailers to make it easier for customers. The popularity of food kits has been rising for years. Grouping plants with the accessories, information and instructions will be key.

Customer trends

Let’s look at some important consumer trends, focusing on the boomers, gen-x and millennial populations.
The boomers are the standard garden centre customer. The generation-x group are often overlooked. Garden centres need to attract the millennials, before converting to customers.

SILVER SHOPPERS

garden centre trendsWith an appetite to spend money, retailers need to catch up with changing consumer behaviours amongst the over 65s.
 
In western society, our populations are getting older. Few businesses have developed a proper strategy for this group which has more disposable income on their hands.
 
This group enjoy gardening and DIY and are the most experienced gardeners. But they still want experiences.
 
Garden centres need to create experiences and services catered to the needs of the silver shopper. You could focus on convenience and leisure. You should do this without assuming shoppers in this category are frail and technophobic.
 
Shoppers in this category differ less that you think from Generation X and millennials.
 
They tend to view themselves younger in their mindset, even if they have reduced mobility due to age! Limited mobility does not mean a limited mindset.
 
A study coming out of Trinity College in Dublin found that quality of life improves once people hit the age of 50. It continues to increase until the age of 78. Spending corresponds with this stat.
 
Experiences are important for this group too. Over the next twenty years, retirees in the USA are forecast to spend 4.6 trillion US Dollars. A great deal of this will be on travel, group activities and on making their living spaces more attractive.
 
The spending will be as much online as it would be in a bricks and mortar shop.

GENERATION X

This generation is often forgotten. It’s a smaller part of the population, but they are important due to the spending power they have.
 
Gen X are the influencers behind most purchases. The majority are caring for elderly parents whilst also raising the next generation.
 
They are the decision makers and the majority have a family-first mentality.
 
They work a hard, but they also want to play hard and enjoy life.
 
The garden, in their minds, is the symbol of productive leisure.
 
Gen X grew up with shopping centres. They still like a physical shopping experience, but they are also omnichannel. 56% prefer to search and buy online.
 
Time is of the essence for these people, so shopping online for them can be a pleasure and a form of escapism. They can do it late at night.
 
This generation are less impulse-driven than millennials. They tend to research products online before buying.
 
Retailers can assist this research by loading product information on their website. Try a push towards ‘click and collect’, or ‘pick it up in store’ messages.

MILLENNIALS

Millennials, also known as the selfie generation. But this group of people aren’t as hedonistic as you may think.
 
Millennials have been described as lazy and self-centred narcissists that still rely on their parents.
 
In reality, this generation is taking life in a completely different direction. They are the most stressed group, and a desire to slow down, live in the moment and increase productivity is driving a more mindful attitude.
 
Often, they are rejecting drugs and alcohol in favour of a clean-living healthier way of life. As such, they put more importance on healthy living that any other generation.
 
Gardening can fit into this lifestyle if presented in the right way. They are in search of a higher meaning in an agnostic society. Being in touch with nature, plants and the earth appeals to them.
 
Garden centres could look at shopping with spirituality. Having a mix of jewellery and plants with healing apothecaries and spiritual books.
 
The key here would be demonstrating gardening as a mindful experience connecting the person and the earth.
 
Using social media channels such as Instagram to showcase plants in real life situations also appeals to millennials.

Design Trends

Finally, it’s worth looking into the design trends taking the garden centre market by storm.

Balcony Lifestyles

This is a major trend for the city gardener, but the lessons we can learn from this do appeal to the country gardener.
 
Balconies are the passage between the home and the garden. It’s like a patio or a terrace, people want to put the comforts of home outside their doors to bring the outside even closer to their windows.
 
Balconies are extensions of the home and are an extra room. Consumers want to be more flexible and want to be able to do more activities outside, weather permitting. They also want greenhouse shelving to bring tamed nature closer to them.
 
The limited space available on balconies means that people are interested in temporary, foldable set ups. You can rearrange these with ease.
 
When people are using their outside space, they want their plants to be close to them. Rolling plant trays and potted plants small enough to lift are of interest.
 
Vertical gardens on balconies have seen a huge increase and have become more mainstream.
 
With minimal space, they not only make an excellent feature on a balcony, but it means a larger amount of produce can be grown.
 
People want to feel as though they can grow as much of their own produce as possible. There are some excellent options for compact vegetable gardens.

Greenhouse living

garden centre trends
Pileas

Another key trend is greenhouse living, particularly among millennials. We are seeing massive interest in plants in our living spaces.

Houseplants are often the first thing a young person will buy when they get their first home. It’s about taking care of something living—not yet a baby, but close.
 
Houseplants contribute to a sense of wellness and connection to nature. They are the decoration of choice and often have pride of place in the home.
 
There is also an increase of sales of furniture that incorporates plants into it. This helps save on space and bring plants into unexpected areas.

She Sheds

Sheds have been a huge trend recently. They represent the fact that people see the garden as a refuge outside the duties of the home. These spaces are created for leisure and pleasure.
 
She Sheds are epitomise this. It’s a room where women can go to access their inner selves.
 
Men are still the prime buyer of regular sheds.

Winter-cueing

Finally, outdoor cooking enthusiasts are embracing the winter barbecue.
 
According to the US-based Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, 61% of North American barbecue owners barbecue all year round. 43% say they use their barbecue at least once a month in the winter period.
 
Fire pits also come into this category, due to their compact nature and their design elements.

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