Tea & the Garden

Tea & the Garden 

by Danny Summers

Just the idea of a simmering hot cup of Tea... in The Garden creates an ideal vision for how to begin the day. Maybe we should pause here for 15-20 minutes, grab a cup of Tea (or coffee), and step out to the Garden (or the most peaceful area of the Garden Center will do). Use the time to relax, breathe deeply, perhaps pray, and think about all the wonderful natural world around us. Then, return to this message when finished...

I hope you did take the "nature break" even if just for a moment on your smartphone, tablet, or CPU. We all will be better for it.

The thoughts behind this message come from multiple directions. The "Tea" portion of this message is from the phrase... "Reading the Tea Leaves" or you might simply say "Reading the Market" around us.

This past week, we had some discussion in the GroupEs eList about recent market research data shared by Axiom covering New and Novice Garden Consumers. While some of the GroupEs discussion suggested the research was focused on more "Big Box" consumers, there are some strong indicators to which we should give attention.

First, a quick reminder of the major transitions in play in recent years as well as generational groups studied.

In 2019, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers as the single largest demographic group in the USA. You can see this illustrated in the graph* here with the red line marking 2019.

[*Pew Research]

Certainly, our Centers have seen a large number of younger guests in the last 3+ years. As we continue this conversation, be thinking about the current mix of guests you have at your Center... percent of Boomers, verses younger generational groups.

Here are the major generational groups that are in most consumer research:

The Silent Generation
Born 1928-1945 (78-95 years old)

Born 1981-1996 (27-42 years old)
Baby Boomers
Born 1946-1964 (59-77 years old)

Gen Z
Born 1997-2012 (11-26 years old)
Gen X
Born 1965-1980 (43-58 years old)
Gen Alpha
Born early 2010s-2025 (0-10 years old)

I intentionally colored some group names above in GREEN. These are the groups that make up the majority of your audience today. We know that as Boomers continue their shift towards downsizing and even having more health concerns, their wants and needs change.

At the same time, the next groups are gaining, and more of your audience is shifting to these groups. They are reaching a higher level of success and have more money to spend on things they care about. 

The Axiom study only focused on three younger groups... Gen X, Millennials, and upper ages in Gen Z. While the study was on a very small set of consumers (300± people), it still has some positive details we should be aware of and watch as we prepare for the coming months and years ahead. See if you have already made some of these observations... keep in mind the term "gardening" could be replaced in a number of younger groups with... Plant Parenthood, etc.

  • 73.4% said they started Gardening in the last 2-4 years
  • 88.7% said their level of Gardening experience was "Beginning or Casual"
  • 70.8% said they had Gardening Success in 2023
  • 88.8% said they plan to spend more money in 2024
  • 86.6% said they plan to spend more time Gardening in 2024
  • 74.5% said they would pay more for a specific color or variety of plant
  • 68.6% said "Organic" is important to them
  • and 70.6% said "Locally Grown" is important to them

When asking about 2023 purchases the study reflected a high majority were made in the top 3 Big Boxes and only in the 10-12% range in independent Garden Centers. Most of the questions were focused on flowers and vegetable gardening activities with some differential between plants and seeds. Considering the large number of these age groups buying their first home in the past 3 years, it is not surprising some of their early exposure to gardening purchases was in "Big Orange and Big Blue" as they made some home improvements. One question about purchases for growing from seed, 29.9% suggested they would be from independent Garden Centers.

While this study has its limitations, numbers above point to several important trends...

  1. Your audience is gradually shifting to younger age groups.
  2. The groups have a deeper connection to plants, gardening and nature.
  3. They are more concerned about the "Organic" designation.
  4. They are more supportive of "Locally Grown" or "Buy Local."

And now more thoughts about The Garden portion of this message...

I receive a number of our Group Centers' newsletters each week. One last Thursday from Kerby's Nursery featured a message titled, "Turn Off the News and Build a Garden." Joey Bokor shared an important part of what The Garden can do for all of us, and especially your audience. Another I am often quoting is Meadows Farms which uses the tagline "Plant a Little Happiness."

We certainly are in challenging and turbulent times and just as many of you have shared in your messaging, everyone needs the numerous health and wellness benefits of plants and the activity of The Garden.

In Tom Kegley's messaging to us over the last few years, especially in his "Let Your Brand Rock" presentation, he gave examples of building messaging around the idea of "The Joys of Gardening." In the lead message graphic shown here, he crafted the following message...

"All creation is filled with beauty.
Go outdoors. See, feel, touch, taste, and listen.
Plant a seed. Watch it grow.
Be grateful for Earth's bounty. Discover. Rediscover. Share the natural wonder.
Take us with you on your journey."

Tom's messaging seems to be perfect for your growing audience of plant and gardening enthusiasts and what we all need... the Joy that only nature can provide. You can find Tom's message by logging into The Group WebSystem, go to the Clients-Only menu and then down to Training - Who are You - Kegley. There you will see his latest message shared at The Fall Event 2023 as well as links to "Let Your Brand Rock" and "The Mark of a Good Mark."

The Bottom Line... what you offer is needed more today than ever and you have an increasing audience of all age groups waiting to respond. It seems this spring season may be the perfect time for these types of messages.

By the way, some of you may recognize "The Bottom Line" phrase I just used. As I was writing those words I remembered, that was the name of Robert Hendrickson's weekly enews for The Group... it paved the way for GROUPtalk that you are reading today.

Let's go experience a little "Tea & the Garden!"

If you would like to see the publicly released data summary of the Axiom study Click Here. And a special Thank you to Tom Kegley for his creative work for The Group.

Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. If you have any trouble logging into The Group WebSystem, please let me know. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know so I can show you how you can sign up.
Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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