Two step study. Qualitative focus groups followed by quantitative internet research.
Qualitative: 6 focus groups were conducted, 2 in each of the following locations – Chicago, IL, Charlotte, NC, and Portland, OR. Groups were 2 hours and were conducted April 5, 6 and 19, 2010.
Quantitative: Online survey facilitated through national consumer panel. 340 vegetable gardener total responses.
As we get ready to start a new year, it’s a great time to start some new ways of thinking, as well.
Two very established segments of your business are vegetable and perennial plants, no doubt. You sell a lot of each and probably have a plan in place well ahead of their respective selling seasons. But, has your plan changed much over the past five or ten years? It definitely needs to.
Earlier this year, Ball worked with an outside research firm to dig deeper into two trend categories, veggies and perennials, to find out how consumers think about them and more importantly to identify the best messages to use to attract customer attention and dollars. Here are some of the most interesting things we learned.
Hopefully this information helps keep you in touch with the attitudes of today’s garden consumer. Keep these findings in mind as you plan your marketing and promotion for 2011.
Vegetables & Herbs
- 40% of those surveyed started with vegetable and flower gardening at the same time.
- Vegetable garden locations are determined based on the amount of sun and convenient access, but are most often placed “out of sight.”
- More than half of all “vegetable gardens” are actually in pots and containers.
- A vegetable garden is seen as functional, not beautiful.
- The #1 driver of variety decisions by consumers is flavor.
- Consumers look first for healthy plants. This means: “sturdy stalks”; “large size”; “watered and cared for”; and “flowers or buds” especially on tomatoes and peppers.
- 73% purchased veggies and herbs as plants, rather than seed packs.
- Newer gardeners are more likely to start from plants instead of seeds.
- Independent garden centers are the “primary store” for respondents but research shows that box and chain stores have more than 50% of the veggie and herb business.
- Casual gardeners plant veggies once each year. Enthusiastic gardeners plant twice.
| Strengths & Weaknesses of Vegetable Gardening
- Better taste
- Healthier eating
- Pride and accomplishment
- Sharing with others
- Learning opportunity for kids
- Weeding is hard work
- Watering takes time
- Pests are frustrating
- Risk of failure
- Failure is disappointing
- Perennials are the building blocks of a garden.
- Perennials provide spots of color, texture, shape and size to gardens.
- Males surveyed tended to like perennials due to “ease of use.”
- Perennials are considered a better investment than annuals.
- Perennials are for people who plan to stay put. They are a form of commitment.
- Consumers are drawn to perennials’ forgiving nature. It equates to less risk.
- Consumers love that perennials can be divided. Younger homeowners divide to fill space, while more experienced gardeners divide to share with others.
- Blooming shrubs and bushes are considered perennials by consumers.
- Most varieties are unknown to the majority of consumers and
50% of study participants say they would use more perennials if they were more familiar with them.
- The #1 source of perennial info is a plant tag. Comparatively, the top sources of info about annuals are friends and neighbors.
| Strengths & Weaknesses of Perennial Gardening
- Easier to maintain (one time planting)
- Cost effective/good value
- Sharing with others
- Short bloom time
- Requires education
- Higher initial investment
- Grows too large
- Pruning is confusing
Talk to you soon,
Independent Garden Center Business Manager
Ball Horticultural Company