Keeping the new wave of gardeners engaged during the cost-of-living crisis

Holly Daulby, founder of Honest Communications, explains how garden centres can keep new customers gained in lockdown still engaged – and spending – during the current cost-of-living crisis.

As PR specialists in the gardening sector, we have a unique insight into the industry from a brand, retail and customer point of view.

As we all know, in recent years the gardening industry saw a boom like never before. But we now find ourselves faced with the most serious cost-of-living crisis the UK has experienced in years, plummeting us into another recession. Customers have, understandably, tightened their belts, and the gardening bubble is at risk of bursting.

What does this mean for retailers and what can you be doing to keep these customers engaged and spending?

Be social
Establishing successful social media profiles goes far beyond publishing posts; the key is to get creative with your content.

Ditch the hard sales messaging and instead share content to inspire and entertain – beautiful and interesting plants, live updates from the centre, and expert tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your garden. Don’t be afraid to “go live”, too, whether it’s showcasing events in-centre or inviting a guest speaker to discuss the latest hot topics. You can also boost engagement by coordinating competitions with brands you stock and teaming up with influencers to further your reach.

Don’t underestimate the importance of engaging with your customers and other accounts, too – just a few minutes a day of liking, commenting and sharing will boost your profile significantly.

Sharing exclusive discount codes for followers is another way to help drive footfall into the centre and give people a reason to spend with you.

Build PR presence
Building a presence in the local media is vital to helping raise awareness and keeping you front of mind within the community.

Newspapers are key to tapping into the local audience, and there are many ways to get your business featured. One way is to celebrate the centre’s stories – do you have a longstanding member of staff due to retire, or have you recently taken on a horticultural apprentice? These milestones may seem small to you, but make a great feel-good story for a local newspaper!

Don’t forget to explore beyond the papers and consider reaching out to bloggers, influencers and online outlets in your area too.

Inspire in-store
Organising in-store events and workshops is a great way to encourage people to visit– you could even team up with local companies, brands and shops to see if there is any crossover for added value. Sessions could include anything from “how-to’s” and seasonal advice, to hands-on workshops in anything from floral design to creating hanging baskets.

It’s likely that the new wave of gardeners are less experienced than your regular customers, so make yourself a valuable resource of content and tips for the garden. Offering tips to help your customers’ money go further is also key in the current climate – think along the lines of guides on upcycling, growing from seeds or propagating houseplants.

The most important thing is to continue communicating with your customers! It can be tempting to scale back on communication when the financial climate looks uncertain, but continuing to nurture your customer relations and reach a new audience means that when they do come to spend, it will be with you.

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