Market Position

"What is your market position?" seems to be one of the most troublesome questions garden retailers grapple with.


From business dictionaries to Wikipedia, market positioning is usually defined as an effort to influence consumer perception of a brand or product. How is it distinguished from competitor brands and does it occupy a clear, unique and advantageous position in the customers mind.

In other words, when people hear or think the words ‘Joes Garden Centre’ (or the name of your garden centre) what do they associate with them?

It’s difficult to answer because in a wider context, people’s perception of ‘garden centre’ is often defined by how they view horticulture; or what they see of garden centres on TV; or plants in a DIY store or supermarket; or passing by a Nursery; or how they view gardening as a pastime at home.
Generally their thoughts wouldn’t be that Joes Garden Centre is a vibrant, modern, retailing experience expected of a modern fashion hub; especially if they are very occasional shoppers in garden centres.

In our minds we all believe the market position of our business should be clearly defined - something that sets us apart from the rest of the pack.

The challenge is knowing where and how our business fits in relation to others and implementing a strategy to reinforce this in the customers mind.

Garden Retail Success uses this quadrant to decide where a garden centre fits best in the market

Large hardware mass merchandisers are positioned on the left side and Chart2.jpgusually just above or below the centre line.

The majority of independent garden centres think they have positioned themselves in the top right quadrant of broad offer and premium / different.

But in most cases they have not actually delivered or implemented a strategy to uphold that position and in the customers mind they would be positioned somewhere in the centre circle.

If you draw on a large population that also includes discerning, middle and upper income people the most successful strategy will be on the right side of the market positioning quadrant


If  you see your business as Broad / premium / different, customers would expect:

  • A broad range of high quality
  • Great facilities for easy pleasant shopping
  • Excellent customer service

To sustain this position you would need to

  • Clearly have the best range / quality, and keep communicating that fact
  • Clearly have the best premises, and facilities, and keep featuring that fact
  • Develop and implement a customer service policy which is not just a little better but vastly superior to any competitor
  • Have a brand, colours, signage, and advertising, that conveys quality and the very best

It’s fair to say the top right quadrant can be a difficult position to achieve because value/price have become more important. 25 years ago, approximately 20% of customers purchased on quality alone, 60% on value, and 20% on price alone.

These days it is estimated that fewer than 10% purchase on quality alone; even the value group are more price driven, and everybody wants to be inspired and enjoy a good shopping experience. This is why it's better to be located in a large catchment population. Even if you only attract the top 20% of the potential customers it will still be enough for the business to thrive.Acorn1.jpg

If you aim to develop a small boutique garden centre in the bottom right quadrant with 

  • A narrow range of high quality or exclusive products
  • Some specialist lines you are known for
  • Facilities for easy pleasant shopping
  • Excellent customer service

then you would need to implement and demonstrate the following for this position to be sustainable: 


  • Clearly have premium quality, different, exclusive, or possibly be a specialist – e.g. urban gardens; rose specialist; basket specialist, topiary; edibles specialist
  • Always communicate your point of difference – your speciality
  • Have premises, and facilities to suit
  • Develop and implement a customer service policy which is not just a little better but vastly superior to any competitor
  • Have a brand, colours, signage, and advertising, that conveys your market position

Premium positioning is achieved by focussing efforts and optimising products for a segment of the market that is willing to pay a premium price for quality, exclusiveness, size / grade; trendy, artisan design rather than mass market; something different. They’re not the people who focus their shopping efforts for gardening to B&Q, Bunnings, Lowes or Mitre 10 Garden


It’s not something we can create in a vacuum—the act of positioning is a shared experience with your customers.