The New Garden Center Customer - Part 1

The New Garden Center Customer - Part 1

by Danny Summers

This is a time of transition, a time of change.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy said, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."

This was true in 1963, just two years after he announced plans to send an American safely to the moon before the end of the decade. And it is even more true today as we near the end of 2019. We are at a point of generational change.

The "Boomers and Flower Children of the 1960's:  Our garden center industry has grown and developed serving the generation we call the Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964. That is my generation. Our parents experienced the end of World War II, came back and built homes, developed their families, and their children were a big group of new consumers coming into the market place. Baby Boomers get their name because we were a big group... a boom in population growth.

Much of the Baby Boomers  were experiencing adolescence and young adulthood in the mid to late 60's when the "Flower Children" era became popular. These Boomers (aka flower children) became adults and their passion for their homes, their yards, and their gardens, fueled much of our industry's growth in the following decades. They have loved plants and everything our industry had to offer. But that is now beginning to change.



Here, in 2019, many of the "Boomers" (now defined as ages 55-73) are nearing retirement age. They are down-sizing their homes and positioned to be less of a consumer of our products than they have been in the past.

This year, 2019, marks an important point of transition. It is the year when one of the next generations, referred to as "Millennials" (born between 1981 and 1996, and defined as ages 23-38) will become a larger portion of the population.

Seen in this graph, Pew Research projects Millennials to surpass Boomers as a higher percentage for adult population this year. According to Pew and their study of 2016 US Census Bureau data, Millennials are projected to grow to 73 million and Boomers to decline to 72 million. You can read the entire Pew Research details HERE.

So, what does this mean for our Garden Centers today and moving forward?

In the short-term, the answer is most likely... not much. As Pew Research says, "Because generations are analytical constructs, it takes time for popular and expert consensus to develop as to the precise boundaries that demarcate one generation from another."

In plain "non-statistical" English... this is a long-term projection. But, recognizing this trend is coming can be an important observation for Garden Centers in the future.

Here's a few things I think we all can agree on when studying data and trends of Millennials:

1. We know much of the Millennial population has delayed life decisions such as marriage,  building families (children) and even buying a home. However, they are now becoming home owners and their interest in plants is growing.

2. We also know this group is highly attracted to very organic, natural products, as well health-conscious and recycling and earth-conscious efforts. I believe their interests here can be even stronger than that of the "Flower Children" of the 60's.

3. We also know they can really use their thumbs...We just need to help turn them into GREEN THUMBS!

So how do we do that?

How do we begin to attract them as new customers?

We will explore ideas and more observations of this new group of targeted customers in Part 2. In the meantime, do a web search for the hashtag #PlantParenthood and see what is ahead. It's pretty exciting!

Stay tuned!


Danny Summers, Managing Director & Chief Instigator
The Garden Center Group
North America's Resource for Garden Retailing Since 2001

Go to The New Garden Center Customer - Part 2 - HERE

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