Despite an increase in consumer interest in gardening topics, there are still significant gaps between growers and end users. Growers must become more informed about the end consumers and provide them with information that is relevant to their needs. Growers have a stake in every sale and should learn how to better communicate with their end consumers. They should also learn how to develop programs and materials that appeal to their end consumers.
A recent study by the National Gardening Association estimated that the average household spent $387 on gardening in 2005. Although this figure represents an increase of 11%, it is still lower than the average spending in 2004, when $449 was the average household spend. This is because of the increasing competition between mass merchants and independent garden centers, which offer a wider variety of horticultural products. It is also important to understand the types of gardening topics that consumers are interested in.
The survey asked participants to rate their level of interest in a wide variety of gardening topics, including plants for shaded areas, water gardening, fostering wildlife in the yard, and adding water features to the garden. Approximately half of the respondents responded that they were interested in one or more topics. The results of the survey also indicated that participants have difficulty finding information about gardening topics.
The survey was conducted at the Philadelphia Flower Show, which attracts many garden enthusiasts. The survey was administered adjacent to the Penn State Cooperative Extension “Ask the Expert” Booth. Participants answered demographic questions and provided their gardening information sources. The information provided by the survey will help Extension personnel understand consumer horticulture needs and provide programs that address these needs.
The survey showed that most survey participants cited their neighbors as their main source of gardening information. This is because most survey participants socialize with their neighbors and obtain gardening information from their neighbors. A few survey participants indicated that they have friends and family who also provide gardening information. It also indicated that the majority of survey participants are not using resources provided by the University of Minnesota Extension. These results indicate that Extension personnel should focus their efforts on identifying their core customer and providing Extension services to this group.
The survey also indicated that consumers are looking for easy access to gardening information. The survey showed that garden center staff, friends/neighbors/family members, and garden radio programs were the most popular sources of gardening information. This was followed by the Internet, books, magazines, and the Master Gardener program.
In addition, the survey found that consumers are very interested in brand name information. The survey showed that 30% of survey participants considered brand name information very important. Additionally, drawings and color photos were very important in gardening information. Approximately 18% of respondents said that research-based information is very important. These results indicate that consumers have a wide range of interests and that associations, groups, and extension services can develop content to appeal to their consumers.