City gardening isn’t just a topic for “environmentalists” anymore
Konni van Delft (Visual Merchandiser) – Photo: konnivandelft.nl
Konni van Delft has been working as a freelance visual merchandiser since 1986. She advises garden centres and DIY stores throughout Europe. We spoke with her about the current trends in POS design.
Ms van Delft, in 2019 you will again be involved in designing the POS Green Solution Islands for spoga+gafa. One of the themes this year is city gardening. Why is this topic currently so interesting for product presentation at the point of sale?
van Delft: City gardening is no longer just a topic for the “alternative crowd” or “environmentalists”. All kinds of people are now interested in this. I also don’t think this is just a fad but a movement that will continue to see strong growth. Hobby gardeners are once again enjoying growing their own vegetables and fruits, even in the smallest of spaces such as in courtyards, balconies, roof terraces and allotments. You come together with others, work and celebrate in the garden and get to know your neighbours. Knowledge and experiences are shared and you can show your children where our food comes from. Flowers are also planted, but the boundary between decorative and useful plants becomes blurred. Biodiversity and variety of species play a significant role in this development. A plant that provides food for bees and other insects is a good selling point today. Customers are becoming increasingly aware that they have a responsibility for the nature around them and that they too can do something to make our cities more livable. This also includes uncovering sealed areas. This allows better runoff of water from heavy rainfalls, which will increase as the result of climate change. The motto of one such initiative in the Netherlands is “Tile out, plant in!” There is also one in Germany called “Save the front garden!”
In the future, garden centres and DIY stores should take all of these factors into consideration in their product range and presentation in order to win over the growing group of city gardeners. By the way, they are also now relying on ready-made solutions in the market – no longer is it necessary to resort to homemade constructions made of recyled materials to create and install a green paradise in the city.
You not only advise garden centres in Germany but also in the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania and Italy. Does the focus of POS design differ in the individual countries? Or are the requests of garden centres and interests of customers now similar all over Europe?
van Delft: Generally speaking, I think that sooner or later the relevant topics are taken up everywhere. Scandinavian countries are often pioneers in the area of innovation. They seem to be more open to trying out new things. Trends still usually come from the big cities. They then spread out from there – country borders hardly play a role anymore in Europe. In terms of what people want, regional characteristics play a more decisive role: A lot of things develop in urban areas rather than in rural surroundings where many people have a large garden. Life in the south also takes place more outdoors than in the Nordic countries. But regardless of where and how they live, consumers are receptive to new stimulus. Supermarkets are showing us how to do it: They are already reaching customers with well thought-out, designed presentations by visual merchandisers. Garden centres and DIY stores should also plan their POS designs in the same way. The thing to keep in mind is that the design has to be in line with the market strategy, regardless of whether the focus is full service, convenience or discounter.
They say that the Baltic countries are much further head in the digitalisation of everyday life compared to Germany, for example. Do the internet and social media channels also play a bigger role there in the marketing of garden centres?
van Delft: It’s true that some countries are further ahead than Germany in terms of digitalisation. But in general, younger customers the world over as well as those who are young at heart look for ideas and suggestions online, regardless of whether it’s about fashion, leisure activities, cooking or home and garden. That is why the green and DIY industries should also use this channel in the most diverse way possible. Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube are simply ideal for our “news”. It’s hard to imagine marketing without them. A good picture or short film can reach customers much faster than a thousand words. However, no one should think that social media activities can just be done on the side. Everything that’s posted should bear the company’s signature and aligned with the POS presentation. Otherwise, customers may be disappointed the next time they visit the garden centre or DIY store.
May I express a wish at this point? What I would like to see even more in our industry is the use of QR codes. This would make it relatively easy to make a lot of information available to the customer. With plants, for example, they could find out about the different varieties, growing areas, the ideal location, the right care and also get additional tips and design ideas for the garden. Even garden centre and DIY store employees could learn something with the QR codes.
Further information: facebook.com/konni.vandelft