Simply Beautiful logoBall’s Simply Beautiful® Retail Report December 2010: Consumer Research Results – Vegetables & Perennials (http://www.ballhort.com/Retailers/IGCReport.aspx) from Ball contains quite a bit of useful information.  I recommend that you ake a few minutes to read the whole thing, but in the meantime here are the high points:

Vegetables & Herbs

  1. 40% of those surveyed started with vegetable and flower gardening at the same time.
  2. Vegetable garden locations are determined based on the amount of sun and convenient access, but are most often placed “out of sight.”
  3. More than half of all “vegetable gardens” are actually in pots and containers.
  4. A vegetable garden is seen as functional, not beautiful.
  5. The #1 driver of variety decisions by consumers is flavor.
  6. Consumers look first for healthy plants. This means: “sturdy stalks”; “large size”; “watered and cared for”; and “flowers or buds” especially on tomatoes and peppers.
  7. 73% purchased veggies and herbs as plants, rather than seed packs.
  8. Newer gardeners are more likely to start from plants instead of seeds.
  9. Independent garden centers are the “primary store” for respondents but research shows that box and chain stores have more than 50% of the veggie and herb business.
  10. Casual gardeners plant veggies once each year. Enthusiastic gardeners plant twice.
Perennials
  1. Perennials are the building blocks of a garden.
  2. Perennials provide spots of color, texture, shape and size to gardens.
  3. Males surveyed tended to like perennials due to “ease of use.”
  4. Perennials are considered a better investment than annuals.
  5. Perennials are for people who plan to stay put. They are a form of commitment.
  6. Consumers are drawn to perennials’ forgiving nature. It equates to less risk.
  7. Consumers love that perennials can be divided. Younger homeowners divide to fill space, while more experienced gardeners divide to share with others.
  8. Blooming shrubs and bushes are considered perennials by consumers.
  9. Most varieties are unknown to the majority of consumers and 50% of study participants say they would use more perennials if they were more familiar with them.
  10. The #1 source of perennial info is a plant tag. Comparatively, the top sources of info about annuals are friends and neighbors.

What I think we should take away from this:

  1. New gardeners are going to most likely start with vegetable plants (and annuals too) in containers.  While large plants are typically considered out of spec by IGC’s, consumers equate them to healthier plants that they can use in their containers for “instant gardens”.
  2. We need to do a better job as an industry in educating consumers on how to garden, on the benefits of annuals and perennials and informing them about the wide selection of plant materials that we all carry.

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