If you’ve spent the winter in a part of the country that remains buried in snow and ice, gardening season seems like a long way off. As Jen Irving, the owner of a small flower and vegetable seedlings business in Falmouth, Mass., noted in a local radio interview there this week, “it is highly unlikely” that New Englanders will be carrying out the tradition of planting their peas on St. Patrick’s Day this year.
Nevertheless, the official start of spring and what some big box stores are calling “Spring Black Friday” is just two weeks away. Is your small business ready to capitalize on all the lawn and garden shoppers coming out of dormancy?
They are no small group, to be sure. Small Business Trends reports that the average U.S. household last year spent $347 on lawn and garden products, translating to a $29.5 billion season for the growing industry.
In addition, the National Gardening Association has reported “spectacular growth” in the sector. NGA research last year found that:
- food gardening alone is a $3.5 billion market
- the number of Americans growing their own food in home and community gardens has grown from 36 million households in 2008 to 42 million in 2013
- 1 in 3 households now grow food, including kale for smoothies, hops for homebrew, and grapes for homemade wine
As for how to capture some of the spring spending frenzy? Small businesses should keep these six facts and stats from the National Gardening Association in mind when developing a marketing plan:
- Your target market has diverse needs: Households with incomes under $35,000 participating in food gardening grew 38 percent between 2008 and 2013, to 11 million.
- You might be surprised by the big spenders: Men aged 18 – 34—the group most likely to grill—spend about $100 more than the average gardener on lawn and garden products.
- New gardeners are growing like weeds: Millennials are the fastest growing population segment of food gardeners. Their ranks grew from 8 million to 13 million in 2013, and their spending doubled from $632 million to $1.2 billion in that period.
- Gardening is a family activity: The number of households with children participating in food gardening grew from 12 million to 15 million between 2008 and 2013.
- Gardeners aren’t just in the ‘burbs: More than 9 million city dwellers participate in food gardening, and 2 million households reported participating in community gardening in 2013—a 200 percent increase over 5 years.
- Getting into the dirt doesn’t mean getting off the grid: Gardening apps are increasingly popular. Garden Manager: Plant Alarm is an app that reminds growers to water and feed their plants. Landscaper’s Companion offers a searchable database of 26,000 plants. And other tech tools offer help with flower bed-planning, vegetable plotting, and species identification.
Considering the target market’s tech savvy, lawn and garden businesses with an e-commerce offering could do especially well this year. In parts of the country where roads are still icy on March 21, online orders for gardening supplies might just spawn a Spring Cyber Monday.