If ever there is time for an IGC to make new plans or shake things up, it’s in January. Some have kept a “when we have time this winter …” list to bring out once Christmas is cleared and packed away. But in addition to the wish list you’ve kept during the busy season, it can be helpful to look to multiple fields for motivation and brainstorming.
Green industry events and publications are great to get the creative juices flowing, but don’t overlook stimulation from other sources. Our customers are influenced by trends in fashion, interior design, art and business, and we should be too. Changing styles in those areas can help us look at our signage, architecture, communications and events with new eyes. Here are a few suggestions to stimulate ideas for your IGC in 2022.
Look to interiors
Interior design forecasts offer several suggestions for garden centers. First, bold colors and the use of multiple patterns in a room are on the horizon. Thinking about courageous color combinations, might you want to paint your faded wooden benches or shade frames in shades of chartreuse or deep purple this season? Or maybe a mix of rich cornflower blues and sage greens would change things up without jarring your sensibilities. If your benches or framing have been colorful in the past, how about painting the benches black or charcoal gray, and the building trims a rich chocolate brown? In other words, how can you use color to give your customers something to open their eyes and talk about?
Interior style experts predict that there will be an even greater investment in outdoor rooms in 2022. As a result, our customers are likely interested in weather-resistant furnishings, plant stands and porch-floor coverings. Where might you find space in your store to show ever-changing combinations of plants or products that can inspire people when they come in?
One of the trends in graphics for the coming year is paying attention to inclusive visuals. Look at your posts, ads and website for the past year, and take notice if your followers tend to be a certain type. Think about using diverse ages, races, body types and genders to attract a greater range of potential customers.
Another trend in graphics is the use of bold icons and bright colors. This is an easy one to carry into our signage, social posts and websites. A number of apps instantly convert a closeup of a flower or leaf, for example, into a comic, icon or art. If your region has a favorite flower or iconic plant, consider transforming that image for eye-catching displays.
You can have photographs printed on everything from flags and banners to mugs and throw pillows, so there is no limit to how you can promote plants and your IGC with images taken on a cell phone.
Some buzzwords seem to enter the language quickly; suddenly, you’ll notice everyone using them. You’ve undoubtedly heard, for example, that no one changes, transforms or adapts anymore. Starting in 2020, suddenly everyone was pivoting. Using the jargon of the day at our IGCs is another way to shake things up for the coming year and attract people who might not have plants on their radar. You might offer to do a seminar that takes people on a deep dive into pruning or offer a class on startup vegetable gardens.
A popular business term in business lingo is hyperlocal. This refers to subjects that are important to a specific community or area. Businesses may use this term to illustrate the importance of focusing on a niche or pinpointed market. Still, those in the green industry have long known that all gardening is regional. IGCs can remind their customers that they have a hyperlocal mission. We might offer Hyperlocal Collections of plants or products that address our customers’ desire for success and interest in sustainability.
Thanks to the internet, people are exposed to more cross-disciplinary information than ever before. We are seeing cooks collaborate with chemists, writers with athletes and artists with scientists. So how can IGCs take advantage of such cross-cutting? We might ask a local geologist to write a blog post about the rock formations in our region and tie that into what types of plants flourish there. We could work with a local restaurant to plan and serve a special meal using edible flowers or ask artists to display their garden-themed art among the plants after the spring crush is over. Even better, we can ask our customers to tell us what their passions are and how those might relate to plants and gardens.
Finally, look to social media posts for information about how others see plants as 2021 turns into 2022. A simple search on Google Images for “top garden influencers on Instagram” or “most popular plant posts on TikTok” will give you hundreds of photos that will inform you about how average people, many younger than you are, are looking at plants. From greenery walls and ceilings to the top plants people are searching for on social networks (Cactus: 1.1 billion TikTok views in July 2021!), you’ll come away with a new perspective that can fuel dozens of ideas.
Inspiration is everywhere, and winter is the perfect time to connect trends and ideas that will attract customers to your garden center in 2022.