The power of color at retail
Walking the floor of the True Value Reunion in Houston, Ruth Buller explained one of the trends that’s working well back at the True Value store she manages in Enid, Okla. “We like all the colors that they’re coming out with now,” she said. “The coffee makers in the spring colors, and the reds and the blues of the Crock-Pots — it’s an eye catcher.”
Around the industry, there is no shortage of eye-catching developments in colors and tints. Clockwise from left: A Smeg vignette in vintage colors at Lowe’s in New York City; a vibrant nozzle display from Dramm professional watering tools, seen at the Orgill Spring Market; and Legrand demonstrates that there’s more to wall plates than white and beige.
Scotts-Miracle Gro plants the seeds of opportunity
Earlier this year, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company announced that it was making a minority investment in Bonnie Plants Inc., a supplier of potted vegetables and herbs. According to chairman and CEO James Hagedorn, this was a critical step in the company’s efforts to become a “true gardening company, not just a gardening products company” in the eyes of the consumer.
In San Luis Obispo, Calif., Miner’s Ace Hardware has already succeeded in this area through its upkeep of an award-winning nursery, as well as its partnership with Talley Farms, a local organic vegetable grower that operates within the store much as a wine club would, according to president Paul Filice.
What both of these companies have in common is that they’ve both caught wind of a blossoming opportunity in the DIY gardening market, where an increasingly younger demographic is still eager to do it themselves — maybe just minus the heavy lifting.
According to a 2015 IBISWorld Nursery & Garden Stores market research report, the $40 billion market experienced a 4.5% rate of annual growth between 2010 and 2015, but that number actually represents a weaker rate of revenue growth than usual. Part of that is owing to price-based competition from home improvement stores and big boxes. But part of it is owing to slowing growth in the 50+ population, the largest market for the industry.
Aside from price, how else can the average home improvement retailer capitalize on a younger population’s “ready-made” approach to gardening?
We turned to Amazon’s Best Sellers list for a proven sampling of gardening hand tools that are bringing in revenues. Here are just a few with the time-saving appeal that younger consumers are seeking.
Nite Ize Gear Tie Reusable 3-Inch Rubber Twist Tie
The versatility of these rubber twist ties mean they can be used in thousands of ways around the house, but they make quick and easy fixes around the garden as well.
Dr. Meter Moisture Sensor Meter, Soil Water Monitor & Hydrometer
This soil testing instrument does a 4-in-1 job of measuring pH value, temperature, moisture and sunlight intensity. Readings are also quick and easy thanks to an LCD screen display.
Fiskars Softough Micro-Tip Pruning Snip
These snips were awarded the Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use Commendation for its spring-action design, which reduces hand strain and improves operability for trimming, shaping and other quick snips.
Stout Backsaver Grip Attachment
This handle attachment appeals to a “work smarter, not harder” mentality by allowing the user to grip their tools higher – and thus stand up straighter, reducing back and shoulder fatigue.
Don’t be lame: a diagnostic tool
1. Is your site mobile-friendly? According to Smart Insights, mobile usage overtook fixed desktop use in 2014. If you don’t have the budget to hire a developer to build a shiny new website for you, there are free (or cheap) options for DIY Web-building software online that have responsive design built in to the package. Herrick says he prefers Weebly, but Squarespace is another good and popular option.
2. Does it tell a story? Sure, people are primarily looking for actionable information — the phone number for your store, your hours, the location. “Beyond that, they want to know about you as individuals,” Herrick said. “We try to add as much content as we can about the staff, their stories.” Building a persona for your business will make you memorable, and, as they put it these days, set your brand apart. Consider starting a blog. Or, if you don’t have that much time, make sure your company history, values and current scope of services are all clearly articulated.
3. Is it hard to navigate? This isn’t the ’90s. Just say “no” to clip art and poorly formatted, endless blocks of text with no negative space. You can find simple tutorials online that will cover the basics of good Web design. To start, avoid cluttering your site with distracting elements and opt instead for a clean, minimal look. Also, keep the navigation straightforward. There should be a clear, logical organization of secondary and tertiary pages.
4. What is your engagement on social media? These days, your social media presence is merely an extension of your website. And if you’re garnering a tepid response from followers, that could spell “missed opportunities” down the line. If you’re on multiple platforms (and you should be), you can use a one-stop solution like HootSuite to schedule all your posts. Herrick says contests and giveaways have by far been the most popular — and least expensive — way to drive engagement. “We’ve found that even giving away something really, really inexpensive is a great way to get organic growth on a post,” he said. People also go crazy for how-to videos and good photography. Chuck those grainy, awful cellphone shots and watch your numbers rise.
5. Do your kids think it’s lame? You know how it goes when one generation supersedes the other as “arbiter of cool.” Regardless, you might get some surprising insights from a younger person who’s able to provide a fresh set of eyes. Besides, did we mention that bit about millennial buying power? That’s roughly $1.4 trillion by 2020, according to projections from Accenture.