“Why can’t we attract customers under 65 to our stores?” It’s a common complaint. Customers aren’t getting younger and we need to attract their children and grandchildren. Today, there are “new guys” who believe they’ll do that. Many in our industry don’t like these methods, but the new guys are listening to their target market. They’re offering their target market what it wants instead of just pushing what growers/garden centers want to sell.
The “new guys” have been taking care of their target market since December 1, 1994. These “new guys” reach more than 100 million U.S. and Canadian homes. More than 65 million people tune in monthly. They have more than
5 million unique website visitors and upwards of 2.5 million Facebook fans. Their magazine circulation will hit one million by January/February 2014. Those “new guys” are HGTV.
Observing their booth and listening to the crowd at the IGC show, obviously, not everyone is a believer. Some old-timers don’t appreciate HGTV’s orientation because it isn’t tied to the idea of getting your hands dirty in the garden. Instead, they “give the lady what she wants.” Their success hinges on discovering the customer’s problem and solving it. They’re repositioning decorating items, including floral, to their target audience. Gardening isn’t a hobby or pastime, but just one more way to a colorful and contemporary home. Plants let time-crunched customers, even those without much outdoor space, decorate easily, quickly and efficiently.
Building gardeners isn’t HGTV’s goal. They want to satisfy a consumer’s current need, not proselytize for any specific industry. The wise garden center will welcome these consumers, engage them and find ways to entice them to return. Meanwhile, 65 million TV viewers and 1 million magazines on coffee tables will boost our product awareness.
With a reset in our industry thinking, plants-as-decor can drive traffic to our stores, attract customers and build loyalty. HGTV works with garden centers to help customers achieve their look.
Randy Hunter, one of the visionaries behind the HGTV concept, talks about Cortland Smith (Walnut Springs Nursery, Glenwood, Maryland). When Cortland joined the HGTV family, he incorporated the brand’s culture into his operation. His trucks were painted with the HGTV logo. Shirts were ordered, not only for his employees, but also made available to his garden center customers and their employees.
Repetition cements a brand in the consumer’s mind. The logo must be consistent in color, font and styles everywhere the consumer sees it or they won’t recognize it. Elongating the logo “because it fits better on my truck” defeats the goal and sets back brand acceptance.
A top brand knows what it stands for. A brand like HGTV doesn’t want to be the very best and certainly not the cheapest. Its stated goal is to be an “attainable brand” providing solutions with superb value at the selected price point. Special cut-price sales will reduce margin while eroding the distribution channel.
You have to be prepared to meet any brand’s requirements for space, display and promotion. They’ll help you, but they’re looking for a “shared responsibility” concept. They need partners who will exert the local effort.
Randy sums up the HGTV marketing efforts. “We’re not a genetics company, not a seed or plant company, we’re a consumer brand.” HGTV opened a “pop-up” store showing many of their products just off Chicago’s pricey Michigan Avenue. It featured plants as decorative items instead of gardening products. While that’s a new concept for our industry, visionaries recognize an opportunity to show customers original ways to use gardening products as a part of home décor.
Don’t ignore an outside-industry brand. It can be the catalyst that brings new customers to our garden centers. Do we care if customers won’t buy for the same reasons Mom and Dad did? Let’s welcome younger traffic in the door. Make their initial foray into “gardening” fun and successful. Get them hooked. Let’s applaud and magnify HGTV’s concepts and look for others that can help us reach new consumers! GP
Published Date: 9/25/2013