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The Benefits of a Poor Economy

The Benefits of a Poor Economy

Who said the recession is over? Has the consumer finished cocooning? Are they all done with Stay-cations? I think not, but someone is going to have to inspire them to have one at home in their own backyard. Are we going to leave that up to Frontgate and Pottery Barn?

This economic near-depression is probably going to last a long time as long as our government has anything to do with it, and it does. This is reflected in a broad range of change in consumer and business spending habits ranging from SLD (spending lock down) to basic simplification frugality. Those who continue to earn and spend are paying down debt, saving aggressively, and have adopted a consciousness NOT to flaunt luxuries in front of their friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers and employees. That’s pretty much everyone isn’t it?Many people feel that the spend-less movement is for the better and I would have to agree. Some say this is the new normal, but only time will tell. We are Americans after all. The one thing I believe is changing is the 5-year average moving from one house to another. Many people already own a house much bigger than they need. They just need to feather and re-feather that nest, which includes their outdoor living areas, gardens and landscapes.

Except for the fighting back of the travel related industries with heavily discounted vacation packages, Priceline, and the like our industry is still much better off than theirs is. Yes, consumers STILL want to escape and they can STILL do it right at home and less expensively than traveling. To further justify the Staycation, even though home values have dropped, the investment in better landscaping still pays off more than anything else they can do.

So the question is, do you attract your customers interest in improving their home outdoors with advertising more discounts? Putting out more coupons? Reinstating or finding new ways to do Bonus Bucks?

Or, are you finding ways to inspire the members of your community to enjoy themselves with their family, relatives, friends, and neighbors right there at home?

How are you going about helping your customers find the value in staying home and fixing up? (This is your invitation to leave a comment!)

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7 Responses

  1. I am wondering the following. When we have traveled and driven through the streets in the evenings where we can see into the back yards, and onto the condo decks and porches we see very little usage of the back yards and decks. Folks are just not outside.

    I guess what I am wondering folks tell us they use our products because of inspiration, fun, relaxation, and exercise yet Carol and I do not see them enjoying the plants this way.

    We are wondering if they are not using the plants why did they buy them in the first place? I guess if we can fugure that out then that is what we should be selling.

    Bev who lives on the lake in a nice home has also noticed that almost all the neighbors do not use the outdoors either. No one even sits on the screened in porch over looking the lake in the evening.

    I guess as I think about it actually how many hours do folks spend outside?

  2. I am not aware of any research on this Ed but there is no doubt that the BOOB tube and computers have had an effect on lifestyle habits. There is some enjoyment and benefit of the act of shopping for plants and gardening even if the space is used only while completing that act. The landscape design/build, casual furniture, pool, spa, and barbecue industries may have some usage research. While some garden centers sell these types of outdoor amenities, the buyers are more likely to also buy plants to feather their outdoor nests. Research would need to take into account the demographics, psychographics as well as region. But for now, your observation is correct for the areas you looked at and that reinforces the lack of inspiration to actually live outdoors. I bet if we looked at the marketing materials of all the garden centers in the area none of them would scratch the surface of inspiring to use the outdoor space, hence developing the want for it.

  3. Dear Sid,

    Bev said something that made my ears perk up.

    Perhaps folks buy our stuff just because that is the thing to do in the spring. It is the topic of conversation. What are you going to get Mom for mothers day. Have you seen or heard about any new plants? I think I will start a vegetable garden or plant a few more pots this year.

    We go out to eat and to the movies on the wekend.

    We go on vacations in the summer to see the US. We take cruises in the winter.

    Fall and Christmas is for decorating.

  4. I think you have a great idea, Sid, to inspire our customers and encourage them and help them to make their yards like the ones that they drool over when they watch popular shows like The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie. That will start them talking and get them outside! I am going to work on it right now…Gotta get the word out

  5. Sid, you have some great reactive ideas. But I’m curious. You said, “This economic near-depression is probably going to last a long time if our government has anything to do with it, and it does.” Our government would have something to do with an economic near-depression in this country? Sid, would you explain why this is so? Why would our government do that? Help!

  6. I’m behind you Jodee. It is simply clear that a new direction must be taken, but what is simple is rarely easy. It was once said, “Habit is not to be flailed out the window, but coaxed up the stairs one step at a time.” It is very difficult to stop doing the traditional price and item advertising even when it isn’t producing a profitable outcome.

    For most companies an immediate “about face” is not going to be the right approach because the established customer base is accustomed to the “gimme game”. We help our clients deal with the shift in their marketing with a careful stair step approach in our Marketplace Advantage program.

  7. John, I have crossed my own line and made what can be considered a political statement. It is not my aim for this to be a political blog as there are plenty of those out there. I’ll answer your question with what I believe to be a non-partisan response. Our country’s economy is based on free enterprise and free markets. The US financial and tax systems are simply overloaded with complexity and can no longer function correctly. I believe the root problem is that it costs as much as it does in market saturation advertising to get elected. The process has become driven by massive campaign finances required to constantly run ads full of sound bites, rhetoric, and half-truths. The financing is largely from special interest group donations. The new approach of gathering large numbers of small donations from ill informed people is to be questioned. It is time to reform campaign financing to reasonable amounts of money (spending limits) so the message is more important and effective than the extremely costly repetition of rhetoric. Okay, from this point forward this blog will not contain political statements whether fact or opinion or rhetoric. I know this is not a direct answer to your question John, but its as close as its going here.

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