The need for many people to stay home the last several months, and most likely, stay close to home this summer, has increased sales of pools, home services and gardening products. In particular, planting vegetables, like during previous financial crises in America, has caught the attention of many new and lapsed gardeners. Seed and garden supply companies have responded to the rise in gardening interest with improved or amended marketing strategies.
“When economic distress hits, gardening really takes off,” said Jamie Mattikow, President and CEO of Burpee.
‘Victory Gardens’ Spur Growth Of Vegetable Seeds And Seedlings
In 1943, there were more than 20 million gardens around the U.S. These “Victory Gardens” supplied nearly 40% of the nation’s vegetables at that time. When quarantines began in March, many Americans were concerned about supply chain issues and planned their own victory gardens, leading to a huge surge in seed sales and other gardening supplies. “I would say vegetables are driving it,” said Mattikow, as opposed to flowers and other plants. “There’s a really, really high interest in vegetables.”
Although supply chains have stayed relatively steady throughout the pandemic, searches related to planting vegetables continued to trend on Google. In some cases, interest in gardening practices increased traffic to seed and plant websites from people looking for gardening tips and tricks, with Mattikow noting that traffic to the advice section of the Burpee website had gone up 75%, and that was by mid-March.
Gardening Brands Are Adjusting Marketing Strategies To Meet Demand
The increase in demand for gardening supplies has led several gardening brands to amend or pivot their marketing strategies.
Scotts Miracle-Gro Emphasized Digital Marketing
After the quarantines started, Scotts Miracle-Gro decided to re-approach their original marketing plan and tailor it to meet the new needs of consumers. The brand decided to emphasize the benefits of gardening and being outside instead of more “product performance and promotions.” Scotts shifted much of its marketing to digital, where it could engage new gardeners with advice on how to get started.
Burpee Aims To Expand Gardening-Related Content Marketing With How-To Videos
Burpee, which has been mailing its catalog for more than 100 years, still relies on the vintage format for much of its business, although the brand now has a successful digital catalog. A second digital catalog, more targeted to buyers looking to expand their gardens was promoted in May. Burpee is also in the process of expanding their content marketing via how-to videos, in “simple, bite-size” formats that are easy for new gardeners to understand.
Indoor Gardening Brands Find Success With Direct-To-Consumer Sales
Many seed companies have always been direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, and now new DTC brands, like Modern Sprout and Nutritower, are finding their businesses more popular than ever as people take up gardening. “It’s been crazy, the amount of uptick we’ve seen in the past two weeks,” said Bryce Nagels, the founder of Nutritower, a hydroponic gardening company, in late March, and the Nutritower website still warned of low seed stock in late May.
Indoor-gardening brand Modern Sprout found themselves struggling when retail stores closed for quarantines, before a switch from wholesale to DTC helped save sales. The unexpected situation also compelled the brand to reconsider their online business and marketing and ramp up their prior efforts, which relied primarily on influencer partnerships and social media. “This really has forced us to pivot, and I think it’s a good thing. It’s been something we’ve been meaning to do for a long time and it’s really forcing our hand,” said Sarah Burrows, co-founder of Modern Sprout.
Whether people choose to keep gardening next summer with the same excitement will likely have a lot to do with how their gardens do this year, and brands that can offer advice and useful information may have better opportunities to develop loyalty from consumers who see them as helping their gardens grow and thrive. Increasing content marketing, more targeted digital marketing and seamless purchasing opportunities are all useful when it comes to creating lasting relationships with new customers.
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