According to new report from the Garden Writers Association Foundation (GWAF), a shift in consumer attitude may signal a market gain for garden centers and local retailers in 2007. As reported in the Early Spring Gardening Trends Research Report recently released by GWAF, more consumers plan to purchase most of their spring garden plants at a garden center or local retailer (47 percent) compared to mass merchants (44 percent). Previously, consumers said they favored mass merchants over garden centers (52 percent to 39 percent) in 2006 and 51 percent to 40 percent in 2005.
An analysis of consumer preferences indicated quality-driven consumers favor garden center shopping and price-driven buyers favor mass merchants. For the past three years, a consistent “quality over price” attitude is evident among households. Half of consumers value best quality as an important attribute in plant selection, while approximately one quarter value best price with the same intensity they have for quality (quality: 50 percent in 2007 and 2006 and 51 percent in 2005 versus price: 28 percent in 2007, 30 percent in 2006 and 25 percent in 2005).
When compared to other types of garden-related spending, consumers expect lawn and grass expenditures to take the lead (42 percent), followed by perennials (36 percent), annuals (34 percent), vegetable and fruit plants (32 percent) and trees and shrubs (27 percent).
Ease of care and color continue to dominate consumer criteria for spring plant selection (ease of care = 46 percent in 2007 and 2006; color = 46 percent in 2007 and 44 percent in 2006). One out of five consumers (23 percent in 2007 and 22 percent in 2006) say that plant size is the determining factor. In 2007, 31 percent of consumers said price is the determining factor.
When it comes to garden-related products labeled organic or natural, consumers say they are more inclined to buy organic or natural plant food (28 percent), garden fruits and vegetables (29 percent) and potting soil (25 percent). Twenty-three percent plan to buy organic or natural labeled pest control products, while one in five prefer to buy organic or natural labeled vegetable seeds, garden mulch, and flowering plants, trees and shrubs.
This spring, 34 percent of consumers will use the Internet to research plant or product information. Only 10 percent expect to use the Internet to purchase plant materials or seeds, purchase gardening supplies or for garden design inspiration.
For more information on the report visit www.gardenwriters.org.