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Trending Thursday: Millennials in the Garden

Posted by Katie Dubow on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 @ 8:05 AM

This is an excerpt taken from an article by Elizabeth Petersen on Millennials in the garden in the December issue of Digger Magazine. Katie enjoyed sharing trends and insights about Millennials with Elizabeth for this insightful piece. Capture.jpg

As Baby Boomers have retired and downsized, their long-standing financial support of the nursery industry has fallen off.

But a new generation of gardeners called Millennials is poised to pick up where Boomers left off — grabbing their shovels, growing their own food, decorating their spaces with plants and re-invigorating the nursery industry.

Millennials in the Garden

The changing of generations bodes well for both retail and wholesale plant purveyors, because Millennials value plants for their positive impact on health and the environment, indoors and out.

Flower Crowns 1.jpgPlus, Millennials are a larger generation than Baby Boomers. Currently they comprise about one-quarter of the U.S. population and already have a collective buying power of $200 billion annually, according to Katie Dubow of Garden Media Group. And the buying power of this younger generation will only increase as they age, buy houses, settle down and earn more money.

To meet the needs of Millennials, though, the industry needs to understand them: what they value, how they operate and the ways they communicate. By doing so, they can direct marketing and design retail shopping experiences more effectively.

Who are Millennials?

The term “Millennials” applies to the first generation to reach adulthood in the 21st century. Born after 1980 and as old as 36 now, Millennials are quickly becoming the dominant demographic group among American consumers and are reaching their prime earning — and spending — years. Last year, in fact, five million of the six million “new” gardeners were 18–34-year-olds.

The 2017 Garden Trends Report, published by Garden Media Group, offered these important insights that help explain what this generation wants from the green industry:

  • Millennials appreciate outdoor, natural spaces and plants for their contributions to mental and physical health, since plants help provide fresh air, clean water and a connection with nature.
  • Since they value clean, healthy and local sourcing, Millennials want organic/ green solutions to soil health and fertility. They seek ways to support ecosystems and save the world. Millennials appreciate a less-is-more aesthetic, so they want big impact in small spaces. Dwarf plants that produce crops of healthy, flavorful food (blueberries and herbs, for instance) allow Millennials to grow their own while also maintaining tidy spaces.
  • New technology for indoor gardening appeals to Millennials, who want to grow indoors, under lights or in water year-round, 365 days a year.
  • Millennials want to stand out from the crowd and express themselves in unique ways, so they value brands that allow them to personalize their spaces and gardens to match their individual quirks.
  • As they build families, Millennials view gardening as a shared experience with their kids.

Millennials Infographic.jpg

All tech, all the time, all around

Technology-savvy Millennials engage with content an average of 18 hours per day and in new ways, Dubow said, which creates “even more touchpoints for garden businesses to reach them.”

Constantly connected, they want information, and they want it fast, in short, crisp, visually appealing and moving servings.

They also use digital devices to share pictures, inspiration and experiences, and they plan before they purchase, by reading and sharing reviews online. “Millennials are driven by opportunities to create memories they can share. They will even pay more if it means they’ll have a ‘share-able’ experience,” Dubow said. “Make it easy for them to snap photos of potential purchases, and create vignettes in-store that are ‘Instagramable.’”

All this sharing makes Millennials influencers: they interact with everyone in their social sphere, including parents, friends, relatives and co-workers, on what brands and products to buy.

“For Millennials, the first step in the buying process is discussing potential purchases or decisions with friends and digital fans via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, texts or Snapchat,” Dubow said. Sixty-six percent will look up a store on their phones.

Reaching Millennials on multiple platforms of social media, then, is essential for garden businesses.

The place to start is with strong, frequently updated websites. “The worst thing for marketing in the digital age is a bad website,” explained Jonathan Pedersen, Monrovia’s vice president of business development. “Digital viewership is surpassing all other media,” Pedersen said, “but it is better to turn off a website than to have a bad one, since Millennials are ruthless when it comes to digital content.”

For the rest of Elizabeth Petersen's piece for Digger, click here.

Elizabeth Petersen writes for the garden industry and teaches SAT/ACT test prep at She can be reached at or

For even more tricks and tips on talking to Millennials, download our free guide

How to Market to Millennials

Topics: Marketing to Millennials

2022 Garden Trends Report


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