Interest in residential lawn and garden care surged last summer as many stayed home and played in their own backyards. After the long, pandemic winter, there may be even more demand this spring for lawn services and garden products. Brands including Scotts Miracle Gro, Burpee, TruGreen and Plow & Hearth are gearing up for spring with digital optimizations to their websites, apps and social platforms and increased content marketing.
Growth In Garden Industry Due To Shifting Consumer Behaviors
According to the U.S. Census Bureau monthly report on sales for retail and food services, sales in building materials and garden equipment and supplies increased by 14% in 2020. Data suggests that Millennials are driving the surge in lawn care. Millennials made up the largest share of homebuyers in 2020, and many are moving out of the city and into single-family homes with lawn and garden spaces. More time spent working and recreating at home, along with Millennial interests in sustainability and organic products, have led to increased investment into lawn and garden supplies during the pandemic. Dave Whitinger, executive director of the National Gardening Association, says that their research shows interest in gardening nearly doubled in 2020 after a drop between 2016 and 2019. Whitinger believes increased interest during the pandemic will remain after the crisis ends, stating: “New gardeners were made during COVID [who] will continue gardening for years to come.”
Gardening and lawn care brands should consider the following four strategies:
1) Go Big
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is one of the world’s largest producers of lawn and garden products. The company is investing in marketing with belief that the increased interest in gardening and lawn care during the summer and fall of 2020 will persist into the spring of 2021. “Consumers continued to buy aggressively into October, and we're planning for a big early spring," said Randy Coleman, CFO, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. The Scotts Miracle-Gro ad campaign “Keep Growing” is part of the largest spring marketing push ever made by the company and will include a commercial set to air during the Super Bowl. During the pandemic, the lawn care company collected user-generated content (UGC) which was deployed on the brand’s social channels and helped define the target audiences of the “Keep Growing” campaign. John Sass, VP of advertising at Scotts Miracle-Gro, says the Super Bowl 2021 spot is “rooted in the truths we would all recognize and authentic to what consumers experienced in the pandemic.” The ad features many of the ways consumers used their outdoor living spaces last year: to cook, dine, work, learn and recreate.
According to an interview with Jeanine Poggi of AdAge, Josh Peoples, CMO for Scotts Miracle-Gro, noted that the company is looking for the best way to appeal to consumers year-round. Although the company is investing in the prime Super Bowl TV spot this year, Peoples said their strategy is changing and in the future they will likely move away from making significant upfront TV buys in order to be more agile.
2) Leverage Content
Burpee, a heritage brand selling garden seeds and equipment since 1881, released its 2021 digital catalog in December, the earliest release in its history. The early kick off was an effort to be ready for another season of increased interest in garden supplies as the pandemic continues. Burpee is also offering inspiration for gardeners through a robust content marketing strategy with the launch of the Burpee GardenCast, a gardening trend forecast announced this month by the company in a press release. The Burpee GardenCast will analyze consumer trends and make predictions intended to interest and attract new and existing customers. Burpee hired a panel of experts to guide the project, including Judge Simon Crawford from the Royal Horticultural Society, HGTV star Kelly Edwards and registered dietary nutritionist and influencer Marisa Moore. According to Burpee executive chairman George Ball, “We estimate more than 18 million new gardeners entered the category in 2020,” and the company wants to give them the products, tools and information they need to be successful. “Through the trends highlighted in the GardenCast, new and seasoned gardeners alike will be inspired as they explore new ideas this year,” said Ball. Consumers can follow the GardenCast on a dedicated page of the Burpee website, where the trends will be explained in detailed articles with include links to products readers can buy that relate to particular trends. The GardenCast trends will also appear on Burpee’s social media channels.
3) Trust The Data
Although many took up the spade, rake or fertilizer themselves last spring and summer, many others turned to experts to improve their outdoor spaces. TruGreen, a Memphis-based lawn care company, sells service plans for lawn care from 260 branches and 38 franchise locations. The popular lawn care company offers a variety of service plans on its website to ensure continued customer engagement throughout the year. The TruGreen home page prominently displays a 50% discount on the first application of its product, incentivizing the completion of the lead form. This collection of first-party data gives TruGreen the opportunity to target offers and information to the interests of the consumer via email, phone and text message. In order to create an additional line of communication with their customers, TruGreen added an app in 2018. On the TruGreen app, customers can order services or manage existing orders and the company provides opted-in push notifications for offers, service updates and billing. TruGreen also reaches consumers with their year-round lawn care messaging via social media channels, with regular posts featuring TruGreen’s flawless lawns and recognizable green leaf logo.
4) Email Delivers
Plow & Hearth began as a small country store in Virginia in 1981 and is now a leader in ecommerce sales of outdoor living and garden supplies. The company regularly updates its lifestyle blog, P&H Living, on which they post DIY videos, gardening advice and instructions for projects for outdoor spaces, including a deck makeover and how to create a garden room. The blog also includes links to items readers can buy from the lifestyle brand. Plow & Hearth often features UGC on their social media channels, inspiring shoppers with the ways Plow & Hearth products can be used to enliven their outdoor spaces.
A central part of the Plow & Hearth marketing strategy is email, and the company’s website prominently features a place to sign up for regular email communications. In a 2019 interview with Retail Wire, Cindy White, senior ecommerce marketing manager at Plow & Hearth, noted “email is still the place to go for immediate sales — the ROI is so incredibly good with email.” Because the open rate of transactional emails is eight times that of other email messages for Plow & Hearth, the company takes advantage of space within transactional emails to advertise new products and offer repurchasing options. White also stated that the company has gained conversions with re-engagement emails following cart abandonment. Finally, White maintained that the use of first-party data gathered through on-site engagement has been the best way for Plow & Hearth to engage their consumers with newsletters and product launches.
By Using Digital Strategies Lawn, Seed & Lifestyle Brands Are Connecting With Consumers Getting Ready For Spring
Throughout the last year, outdoor spaces have become places to connect, celebrate, play and relax. Lawn and garden brands are using multi-channel digital advertising strategies to engage consumers and acquire new customers, growing subscriber lists that allow for better targeting and reach across channels.
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