As Millennials begin to show interest in the horticulture industry, they’re also starting to show an increased passion for houseplants. With the desire to bring the outdoors inside, more Millennials are learning, researching and investing in plants that not only make their home look good, but make them feel good. Will Heeman, chief daymaker at Heeman’s Garden Centre in Thorndale, Ontario, told Cultivate'19 attendees how they can capture the hearts and loyalty of today’s new plant parents.
Engage the next generation of plant parents.
What’s the best way to reach Millennials? By going to where they are, which is on social media. Heeman said that while all social media outlets are great, you should, “pick one thing that you can do well and do that really well instead of spreading yourself thin.” His preferred platform is Instagram.
With Instagram, Heeman said it’s a lot easier and more fun to create content for a niche or expansive market. It’s also a way to keep up with trends and learn what people are looking for, which can be incorporated into your content curation plan.
“You want to show people that you have what they want and are able to give it to them.” Hashtags are also a way Heeman shares his plants. Some of his favorites are #houseplantclub, #houseplant, #plantparenthood, #greenthumb, #urbanjungle, #indoorplants and #plantsofinstagram
Where do plant parents shop?
“A lot of people don’t know where their local plant shops are,” Heeman said. “So instead, they go to big box stores and online retailers like Amazon and independent sellers. The closest they may even get to a garden center is with an urban plant shop. Your job is to get them to come to you.”
Make your garden center the place to be.
To make your garden center the go-to spot, Heeman suggested a two-part goal: showing plant parents that you have their dream plants and helping them discover new ‘must-haves.’
One way to show consumers their dream plant is by providing variety tags and Latin names so they can feel educated. “Talk nerdy to them,” Heeman said. “People want to feel smart, learn things and feel included. This is a new world to them. Let’s invite them in.”
Another way is by providing the perfect pot, which Heeman said is an additional accessory and additional cost. “If you don’t have the perfect pot beside your plant, you’re missing out on major dollars.”
According to Heeman, Millennials are becoming plant parents because of their enhancing factor, which is another way to captivate their hearts. Providing plants with purpose, “whether they smell good, look good, taste good or keep away bugs like mosquito pots, you’re teaching them a new way to enhance their life and make it easier,” he said.
Keep them at your store.
So you’ve found ways to get new plant parents to your store. How do you get them to stay and purchase? Heeman said the layout and amenities of your center are equally important.
“Centers should have signs that answer questions that the consumers have yet to ask,” he said. Handouts — although they may seem old-fashioned — are an extra way to have information accessible to consumers, as well as signs or boards with the most common concerns and issues. Listing things like popular pests and what to watch for shows consumers that you’re knowledgeable.
“Disadvantages like not having space allocated for pets and families is a big turnoff,” Heeman said. “People appreciate pet-friendly spaces, charging stations and breast feeding and changing stations. If these families have to assist their little ones and you don’t have a space for them, that’s it, you’ve lost them.”
With this information, Heeman said it’s important to cultivate authentic relationships with new and current consumers, while giving them what they want.
“Plants allow people to express their individualism and style,” Heeman said. “The best part of today’s aspiring plant parents is that they are a captive, very passionate audience who already know what they want. They just need an authority to tell them what they already know.”