Millennials. Generation Y. Generation why. Whatever you call them, you know who they are. They’re the people who were born somewhere roughly between 1984 and the year 2000, with technology and social media largely affecting the way they communicate, receive news, and, yes, purchase things. Within the past few years, this group has gotten a bad rap—they’re changing the way traditional companies do business because their buying habits are much different than their predecessors. They trust advertising less and value their peers’ opinions more.
But, don’t be fooled: millennials aren’t “too cool” for gardening. In fact, according to this survey, more people than ever are gardening… including millennials. And that means you, as a plant breeder or retailer, need to focus on this ever-growing and important generation of consumers. Because they’re the future. Because even though gardening as a hobby tends to veer towards the older set of folks, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be marketing to millennials.
Here’s how you can reach millennial consumers and show them the value of gardening. Just remember: they’re a bit of a finicky bunch, and marketing to them takes some creative solutions.
How to Market Gardening and Horticulture to Millennials
Make plants and flowers “cool” again.
One of the subsets of the millennial generation is a group ironically referred to as the hipsters. Essentially, hipsters are so hip that they reject big-business initiatives and seek out small-batch products and underground “finds.” Mainstream anything gives them the heebie jeebies. So in order to make gardening and plants cool to these socially aware consumers, you can’t be too upfront about it.
Gardening speaker Monty Don said that you can’t try to get millennials into gardening—doing so outrightly will turn them off of it. In this article, he’s quoted saying trying to get millennials interested is a “red herring.” Instead, you’ve got to either get them interested while they’re young, or let them come to it. Don’t shove it down their throats. To make gardening cool, you’ve got to relate it to what millennials already love: trendy design, organic products, and small business support.
Provide value through helpful content.
One of the most effective ways you can appeal to millennials’ interests and connect them to gardening is through content. Whether that’s blog posts, social media, videos, or the like, if you create valuable content that informs and entertains, millennials will begin to make garden-related content a part of their daily lives without even realizing it. As a generation that researches everything before buying it, garden centers need to be proactive in making gardening familiar and comfortable by providing helpful tips that encourage millennials to pick up the spade and give it a try.
Forget your business for a bit and focus on building relationships.
Millennials swarm social media like sharks around a pool of prey. To reach millennials, you need to be where they are, and for most, that’s social media. But that’s not all. Use social media what it’s intended for: connecting and communicating socially. Don’t push, push, push your products. Instead, talk to your prospective customers. Learn what their apprehensions, goals, and interests are. People buy from people, first and foremost. When you leave the business out of it sometimes, you open up a comfortable and valuable space to learn invaluable insight about your target customer and you can then better provide what they’re looking for.
Showcase your community engagement.
Once you begin creating and participating in actual conversations with millennials and social media users, don’t let it stop there. Talk about how you are always talking to your commenters/customers. Invite others to voice their opinions. This opens up the door for others to jump in on the conversation, and the more people you can reach this way, the better. It feels more organic and not forced, which is the key to millennials’ hearts.
Reaching the millennial set can be difficult at times but certainly not impossible. And as a breeder or garden center, it’s imperative you are marketing to the most important consumer of the 21st century.
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