My latest edition of Nursery Retailer arrived and in the very back, in the section titled "Consumer trend watch" we find a story titled "Today's young homeowners want you to do the dirty work for them". In the article we hear that Generation X and Y want beautiful gardens and outdoor rooms, minus the sweat and hard work that come with them. The article continues, they take interest in environmentally sound gardening and raising organic vegetables and fruits-though they would probably prefer to hire you to come over and do it for them. Finally this, "and don't even try to tell them they need to learn the Latin name of the ornamental grass they are eyeing across your nursery yard". This last one is interesting as I have never thought anyone needed to learn the Latin names of plants. They should however be available for the consumer when deciding on purchasing a plant. This also sounds like the boomer generation who is getting on in age. As a matter of fact it sounds like just about everyone nowadays. I am not so sure it's just a quality of Gen. X and Y.
O.K. what's a small garden center to do? At first blush you would think the way to capture this market is to have a landscape designer to design their landscape, a crew to install the landscape, and a maintenance division to care for landscape.
The problem with these reports, as they deal with our garden center business is it ignores the more lucrative niche markets that exist within these demographics. Maybe 8 out of 10 Gen X want you to DIFM (Do it for me) but there are 2 out of ten that find the whole notion of DIFM or not getting dirty silly. Why fight the big companies for the DIFM market? Scotts, Depot, Lowes, and the rest are charging straight into the DIFM market.
We think there is a whole sub-culture of people who desperately want to be different than the masses. They see a generation saying DIFM and decide they want to be different. Not getting dirty? Our niche audiences want to get dirty! They want their kid's to learn about dirt and how plants grow. They come to our kid's classes where parents can share with the kids the joy of nature. I read about groups of Gen. X and Y that go and plant abandoned lots in various cities so as to beautify the neighborhood. That's not very DIFM. Our workshops are sometimes more popular with Gen X and Y than the boomers
We believe a lot of these trends are real. DIFM, dropping Latin names, don't want to get dirty, do seem to be happening with much of the population. We don't think however that a small business should be focusing on such a large demographic. Focus instead on the small niche markets that want something different than the masses. These niche markets often cross generational boundaries. Organic gardening, native plants, xeriscape, garden workshops, water gardening, community gardens, and more are enjoyed by members of the Boomer generation as well as Gen. X and Y.
As everyone rushes to address the DIFM, and not getting dirty market small garden centers should be addressing the other markets that get passed over. That's where the action is.