Market segmentation. What garden centres can teach us

I’m often driving past my local garden centre. It’s changed recently.

What’s often looked more like a builder’s yard, with lots of stones, paving slabs and timber on view, has transformed. It now looks like a tourist visitor’s centre complete with a massive, brand new, café.

So, when my friend, Sally, wanted to meet up to discuss her branding business, it seemed like an excellent place to go.

But it did more than that… it inspired us. Let’s start digging!

Target Market Segments

It’s different now. It already has an excellent reputation with the trade. You know, the landscape gardeners who turn a track of mud into a tropical paradise. I’m told you can often see van loads of professionals leaving the centre early every morning.

Today, you’ll also see members of the public queuing to get their bacon roll and skinny latte. They’re there to grab something to eat, perhaps pick out a couple of shrubs and then go to work. Whereas it used to look like a builder’s site at times, it’s all laid out differently now to improve the customer experience.

Differentiation

Each area of the garden centre is now a domain of expertise for different buyers. The public domain and the trade areas are physically separate. There are specialist areas (segments) for flowers, shrubs, outdoor plants, tools, containers, rocks, water features and garden furniture as well as specialist gate design, fencing, aquatics and leisure building design – all as sub-brands within the garden centre. Segments, that are physically and literally, differentiated.

Branding

Sally noticed the brand logo straight away with a simple and effective design of a tree, and it’s consistent use around the site. Their brand is not just seen at the garden centre – from banners in the centre of the nearby town to local radio adverts, they all connect with a consistent message building a strong, vibrant and cherished brand. One that stands for choice, quality and expertise; one that entices people to visit.  

The customer experience matches their brand values with an inviting entrance and easy navigation around the centre. The staff are happy and helpful. The place is vibrant. Its brand is alive and breathing. Its reputation is growing… you can feel it.

Value proposition and positioning

I’m more of a value proposition person. I want to understand how people differentiate and position themselves, so they stand out in a competitive marketplace.

A typical garden centre's value proposition is “we sell plants and gardening tools”. This centre's proposition is different. It's “for customers and tradesmen, a ‘Gardener’s Garden Centre’ no matter whether you garden for fun or do it for a living.” This is customer-centric, focused on their two main target markets and it also introduces an emotional element too.

The value proposition is clear. It says you don’t have to be a gardening expert to visit the centre. But when you do, we'll have experts that can help you, whatever you want. Spot on. It’s not just about selling plants; it’s about selling a vision. It's about selling the ability to transform your garden with all the help and professional expertise, you could need. Plus everything is in one place; the definition of a ‘one-stop-shop’; a retail destination.

It’s great to see a local company understand marketing at a strategic level and then implementing it brilliantly.

No surprise then that Sally and I intend to meet there again soon. Inspiration about marketing can come from anywhere!

PS: This is not a PR piece and there is no commercial relationship with the business. We just liked what they've done.