Brewing in the Garden
Entertainer Red Skelton is credited with saying, “Give the people what they want and they’ll come out for it.”
Knowing what people want, however, isn’t always apparent. It takes tracking consumer habits, studying emerging trends and making a few educated guesses. When trends are spotted and “what the people want” is discovered, retailers are grateful.
Garden Media Group has tracked and studied lawn and garden trends since 2001 and has been spot on with many of them. Below are three major trends in its latest 2014 Garden Trends Report guaranteed to drive traffic and boost sales.
Drink Your Garden
Over the last decade the garden has gone from a floral beauty provider to food producer without skipping a beat. The emerging trend of “drink your garden” takes the garden’s harvest from the plate to the glass. Raspberries and blueberries are delicious as yogurt or oatmeal toppings, but they can also be added to a fruit smoothie. Kale, spinach and other leafy greens make tasty salads, but they also add a vitamin- and nutrient-packed boost to the diet when processed raw in a juicing machine
or blended into a healthful green smoothie.
People are also discovering that their homegrown harvests can be turned into alcoholic beverages. “Fermentation gardens” produce hops for brewing beer, grapes for homemade wines and apples for hard cider. In fact, nearly any fruit can be turned into alcohol through the science of fermentation, whether it’s the simple strawberry or an exotic prickly pear cactus.
With 1 million Americans actively making their own beer and wine, this trend is a huge draw to pull in new customers for garden centers, particularly the hard-to-reach 18-34 year olds.
Beyond beer and wine, the garden harvest is also finding its way into cocktails, from mint mojitos to basil-infused martinis. Garden centers should take advantage of the trend and display ornamental blueberry and raspberry shrubs up front and center just like grocery stores do.
Foodies and health-conscious people are discovering kimchi, the traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasoning and drinkable “shrubs” made from fermented fruits and vegetables. Both are known to be great for health and digestion. Whether it’s a smoothie, a brew or a cocktail, the homegrown and handcrafted aspects of these beverages provide unlimited workshops and events to help garden centers take advantage of the driving forces behind the “Drink Your Garden” trend. Imagine
how many new customers these classes would attract.
Taking local to the next level, people are growing the world in their gardens, mixing cultures and embracing what is local to their own region. It’s a balancing of what’s old the tried-and-true tastes of a locale or region with the flavors and influences of an increasingly smaller world. Part of the reason for this trend is a growing pride of place and embracing one’s neighborhood, town or region. People are appreciating the history that surrounds them, the foundation of their community. There is the discovery of what’s old and a new value for it, whether it’s the food and farming techniques of the local community supported agriculture (CSA) site or the flowers and trees that flourish in your grandmother’s yard.
At the same time, these regional icons of the past are being interpreted for today. People are bringing international flavors and influences into their local context. Professional chefs and home cooks alike are blending foods and flavors, such as a Mediterranean spin on a Southern specialty. Gardeners are doing the same, planting jalapeños, edamame and daikon, not just the same old bell peppers, snow peas, and carrots.
Garden centers can differentiate themselves from box stores by offering “super foods” not commonly found in local markets or CSAs that customers can learn about and grow at home.
Finding cultur-vated bliss in the garden is bringing together a new awareness of good stewardship with modern technology. Food scrap recycling is a trend sweeping the country. Many people are using new technology that shreds table scraps into perfect sized pieces that decompose faster and help make healthy landscapes, not landfills.
Cultur-vating is finding what makes one happy, which for many means a mingling of local and heritage. It’s finding the sacred in each moment and the extraordinary in the ordinary. Think of yoga in the garden, meditation gardens or zen weeding workshops. Where is more appropriate to find one’s bliss than in the garden?
Young Men Getting Down & Dirty
According to a recent National Gardening Association (NGA) survey, men ages 18-34 are spending $100 more on the lawn and garden segment than the average gardener. They see the great outdoors as their playground. And instead of monkey bars and seesaws, the grill and the garden are where they’re finding their fun.
Young men are also the biggest do-it-yourself gardening demographic. Guys are using their outdoor spaces for crafting and creating; they’re growing hops and brewing beer, and growing hot peppers the hotter the better and other veggies to show off their grilling skills to friends.
Young men are also sharing this outdoor playground with their children. With upwards of one-third of fathers becoming the primary childcare provider, these new stay-at-home dads head outside with their children to play, get dirty and experience nature hands-on.
This demographic shops for their outdoor adventures where they feel most comfortable the local hardware store where intimidation is low and salesperson interactions are few. These young men, however, are also very interested in building their outdoor-oriented skills by taking classes and workshops, an area where the local garden center excels.
These trends are important influences on today’s consumers. Now it’s up to you to give ’em what they want.
Are you up on what’s trending in the world of gardening? If not, don’t worry. From “Cultur-vating” to “Bee-nificials,” Garden Media Group has your back. Visit www.gardenmediagroup.com to check out GMG’s hot-off-the-presses 2014 Garden Trends Report.