It’s time for garden centers and retailers to forecast trends for the coming year. In order to discover what the customer will be looking for, stay ahead of the competition and ultimately drive sales, forecasting trends is vital for all garden center businesses.
The 2022 Garden Trends Report from Garden Media Group, “From Crisis to Innovation,” outlines the shift that has occurred in the green industry and beyond. Following “The Great Reset” of 2021, the 2022 report guides us through the customer mindset to better fit green products and services into this post-pandemic lifestyle.
“We are coming into an era of personal freedom,” says Katie Dubow, president of Garden Media Group. “In 2022, many will take a leap they might not have had the choice or courage to make otherwise. The trends show a bright future for gardening.” Here is a sampling of the eight trends that will shape the future and how you can utilize each for your business, according to Garden Media Group:
Next year, innovators will emerge to maintain green economic recovery. These leaders are called the Creator Class, and research shows they are leaving steady jobs for ‘passion projects.’
“This new Creator Class is shaping their future not with big corporations, but as individuals,” Dubow says. “They are drawn to create and innovate on their terms, creating successful micro-businesses in their communities.”
Micro-businesses are also driving the ‘support local shops’ message that garden retailers can capitalize on.
“Keep promoting your shop local message, charitable contributions, or how you are working to bring together community,” Dubow says. “Invite local creators in for a Local-topia event, collaborate on new products and share in their social reach.”
The sudden change to virtual demanded everyone adjust the way they do business. Every sector pivoted, including social media.
“The pandemic accelerated online shopping,” Dubow says. “The customer will be expecting your green business to offer products for sale directly from social platforms, known as Shoppertainment. In the U.S., social commerce may reach 4.2% of retail e-commerce sales in 2022 or $36.09 billion.”
In 2022, home improvement projects show no sign of slowing down. And the new project involves zones — creating spaces for work and play.
A key zone for retailers to consider is the front yard. Social media searches for “front yard” or “front porch” have reached a five-year high.
“Defining spaces for comfortable and safe entertainment is top of mind for homeowners,” Dubow says. “Out front, they can welcome people into their space without crossing the threshold.”
By positioning plants and products to suit this space, green businesses can react to trends by driving sales. People want container plants that look good and are low care.
Bridging the gap
This is the year of “The Great Reset.” And with any reset, you need to start fresh. For the 18.3 million new gardeners gained in the past year, this means going back to the basics. “Green businesses are challenged with turning these instant gratification customers into lifetime gardeners,” Dubow says. “Build a strong bridge of products and knowledge specific to your customers’ interests — whether edibles, gardening for wildlife, containers or the DIY generation.”
By bridging the gap in products for beginners, garden retailers will lead new customers to success. And note, the more personalization, the better. But be sure to offer quality products, and don’t overwhelm newbies with too many choices.
Many have discovered — or rediscovered — birding. Sales of feeders and feed are projected to hit $2.2 billion in sales in 2021. “Birding as a hobby is great news for retailers that sell feed and feeders,” Dubow says. “An exciting byproduct of an interest in birds is an interest in the plants to feed them.”
Make it easy for bird enthusiasts to shop the essentials by designing and merchandising collections to feed birds. Provide plant lists, merchandising, guides, lead birdwatching walks or host birding clubs to support and engage this group.
Flowers are the new hugs. In times where hugging and personal connections are limited, people show their appreciation by giving flowers. The act of both giving and receiving flowers triggers the feel-good hormones in our brains.
Whether a pandemic, personal pleasure or a signal of an elevated lifestyle, cut flower bouquet sales in the U.S. reached $6.5 billion in 2021 and are predicted to surpass that in 2022. “Over 50% of cut flowers are purchased at the grocery store,” Dubow says.
“Think about the sales we could attract if garden retailers set up cut flower stations.”
To capitalize on the cut flower trend, promote sharing gardens, teach customers the best flowers for bouquets and host flower arranging workshops.
And, Dubow adds, an added benefit of this trend is increased plant sales because consumers want to buy the plants they see in their bouquets.
New research shows that one in five of the world’s plants — 4,400 in the U.S. — are at risk of extinction.
Plants — and their incredible diversity — make life possible. This is why there will be a demand for a renewed focus to prevent further plant extinctions.
Gardens such as Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware have led conservation efforts with research, fundraising and the creation of extinction gardens.
“Your business can provide key education to customers as well,” Dubow says. “Teach them how certain activities can harm or help extinct plants. You’ll be surprised how some of the plant parents flexing on social media will be easy to bring into the conservation fold.”
Awareness and observation over time will help people develop a keen eye and save wild plants.
In living color
The most anticipated trend each year is the hue that’s catching the consumer’s eye. This year the color is clover, representing the first sign of spring, renewal and rebirth.
“Green is optimistic, rejuvenating, invigorating, up-beat and importantly — inspired by nature,” Dubow says. “Use this trending color in biophilic design elements in offices, work it into shades of new collections, and merchandise with pillows, containers or accessories.”