As U.S. consumers emerge from their winter cocoons, they will focus their decorating passion on the exterior living areas of their homes, according to a Unity Marketing research study, Future Vision: Garden Market.
"For the next five to ten years, garden marketers and retailers will enjoy a period of steady growth as consumers shift their decorating focus away from the home's interior to the garden, patio and lawn," predicts Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, based in Stevens, PA, U.S., and author of Why People Buy Things They Don't Need (Paramount Market Publishing, 2002).
U.S. consumers spent U.S. $40.7 billion on garden-related products in 2001, soaring 12.1% from $36.3 billion, in 2000. With the average U.S. household spending $444 on lawn and garden goods in 2001, the fastest growing garden category is garden "hardware," which includes outdoor equipment as well as accessories, products, furniture, and tools to enhance the gardening experience.
Garden "software" - the plants, seeds, shrubs, trees and other plant material - grew only 5.8% in 2001 to $18.5 billion, while purchases of garden accessories jumped 18% over 2000 levels, to $18.8 billion.
"Today more garden consumers turn to home centers, like Home Depot and Lowe's, for garden purchases rather than specialty lawn and garden centers," Ms. Danziger says.
Three demographics distinguish the gardening market:
A Luxury Market
While 80 percent of U.S. households bought something for their lawn and garden, Unity Marketing says the prime market for the garden today is middle-aged, affluent home-owners.
"The garden market is morphing into a luxury market for consumers with incomes of $75k plus. The big opportunity for garden marketers and retailers is to tap consumers' growing passion to enhance enjoyment of their garden by adding luxury accents, furniture, and accessories," Ms. Danziger advises.
Luxury garden purchases for high-end barbecues, luxury patio and pool furniture, and decorative garden enhancements were the second most widely purchased luxury product (luxury electronics were number one in Unity Marketing's latest luxury market survey).
Forty-five percent of the affluent consumers surveyed purchased luxury garden products, with the average household spending $1,000 on luxury enhancements for their yard.
Demographics, an aging population and rising home ownership, is behind the increase in garden-related spending, but the real growth driver is the consumers' passion to reconnect with the natural world, according to Unity Marketing. The group explains that, as contemporary American culture becomes more "virtual," computerized and electronic, consumers feel a growing need to ground themselves in the real world, a trend finding expression in the garden as consumers divide their yards into "outdoor rooms" as they build elaborate garden getaways to shut out the outside world and connect with the sounds, smells and sights of nature.