From the heart

From The Heart

Women are multiple markets in one and understanding how they shop and why they buy is the first step to gaining their business.


It’s no secret we live in an industry where the majority of our customers are women but the majority of owners or managers of stores, franchises and groups are blokes.

Do our male decision makers understand or “get” what women would really like to experience in a garden centre? Many women both inside and outside the industry would resoundingly say no!

LushingtonsTillsSml.jpgJohn Grays acclaimed best seller in the 1990’s, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, highlighted the relationship differences between the sexes. It sold more than 50 million copies because so many of us identified with his analysis that in an emotional sense there are fundamental differences between men and women and we need to appreciate them. At the time it was a much discussed topic but have we learnt?

Twenty years on we still have a man cave mentality in many garden retail stores. It’s not just small retail nursery stores but in some of the larger destination garden centres across the world it’s still possible to walk straight into the business end of gardening – chemicals, tools, seed potatoes.

Contrast this with fashion, cosmetics, interior design and home ware stores where in the last twenty years our main customer group have been able to walk into more and more choice, imaginative ideas and inspiration to tempt them.

Understanding how women shop and why they buy is the first step to gaining their business.MorgansGiftsSml.jpg

Women are multiple markets in one. In addition to buying for themselves, they buy for their husbands, partners, kids, parents, in-laws, siblings, friends, kid’s friends. Whenever there is gift to be bought, a woman is thinking about where she will find something that is appropriate as well as the card and gift wrap materials to go with it.

They are normally great browsers and they are drawn to garden centres to shop because they anticipate a pleasing environment, beauty and fragrance; they anticipate they can browse a good range of gifts and items for the house and garden and they anticipate convenience.

And it doesn’t matter if they are shopping in the ‘landscape for less’ zone carefully getting the best from their meagre budget, they still want inspiration and they want to be able to shop in their stilettos on the way home from work.

GreenDoorGifts.jpgThey want to know what looks good together. They want to use ideas from magazines and make them their own. They want to establish their own furnishing style in their home and they want to follow it through outdoors, no matter what their budget is.

So why do some of you continue to hold on to the myth that a garden centre entrance should welcome customers with the best seed potato deals and bagged fertiliser because that’s what gardening is all about?

Guys, listen to your female colleagues, partners and girlfriends. It’s tough trying to capture your most important customer group and they belong to that same group. 

As a retailer not only do you deal with live product but you are also expected to appeal to all the senses, wow visually, provide the most amazing experience, lift spirits, be the best in town, inspire. You name it ... it is expected by women and you can’t afford to disappoint!  - Joy Lamb