As an industry, we spend a lot of time talking about courting younger gardeners, but I don’t see many companies doing it very well. It’s not simply a matter of taking the same message and product mix from offline media to online and social media. Selling successfully to younger gardeners has significant implications for product mix and message as well.
Instead of looking at gardeners by generation, it may help to look at them by level of expertise. A recently published survey by the National Gardening Association reported that those surveyed categorized themselves as follows:
Master gardeners: 3%
Gardening enthusiasts: 9%
Casual gardeners: 27%
Reluctant gardeners: 19%
Just mow the grass: 17%
None of the above: 24%
Most of us concentrate on the master gardeners and gardening enthusiasts, which represent just 12% of the population. Although the casual and reluctant gardeners represent almost four times as many people, we don’t make it easy for them to buy. They’re held back by fear of failure, confusion and time constraints.
I recall Kip Creel of Standpoint Marketing remarking a few years ago that most new gardeners don’t understand the difference between an annual and a perennial – nor do they care.
I’m reminded of a city-dwelling friend of mine proudly planting her first garden – including the plastic pots.
Between growing zones, fertilizing requirements, watering needs and a whole lot more, gardening requires a lot of knowledge that we tend to take for granted. If we want to appeal to the casual and reluctant gardener, we need to simplify the buying process and provide everything needed for success in bite-size chunks … and make it fun in the process!
Whenever I worry about oversimplifying gardening instructions, I’m reminded it’s a needless fear when I recall something I read years ago. (Apologies to the author, as I don’t remember where I saw it.) “It’s not true that anyone who can read can learn how to cook,” it said. “The recipe instructed, ‘Separate one egg.’ And I said, ‘From what?’”