More than half of American households (56 percent) bought flowers, seeds, shrubs, and trees for outdoor landscaping in 2003, down just slightly from 59 percent in 2002. Outdoor gardening is a passion for many, and a necessity for others. The American Gardening Association reports that 80 percent of U.S. households participate in some garden-related activity that usually results in the expenditure of money for tools, equipment, greenery, and supplies.

With home ownership at two-thirds of the population, few have the luxury of escaping some gardening expenditure. After all, if you leave your home empty for a few weeks, it will only get dusty. But leave your lawn or garden alone for the same amount of time and you've got a major project to contend with when you get home. The lawn and garden are always in the state of "becoming," transforming themselves from the manicured and orderly look the gardener desires to the abundant, chaotic, lushness that nature strives to achieve.

Industry Snapshot

Consumer spending on flowers, seeds, and potted plants (i.e., garden "software") totaled $18.2 billion in 2002, up 1.4 percent over $17.9 billion in 2000, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis (see Figure 8.13). However, that statistic tells only part of the story of America's passion for gardening. The National Gardening Association estimates that Americans spent in total $39.6 billion on their lawns and gardens in 2002, a 5 percent increase over spending of $37.7 billion in 2001. That includes gardening equipment and decorative items (i.e., garden "hardware") discussed in more detail later.

Retail Overview

The Department of Commerce classifies the bulk of garden retail sales within the broad building materials and garden equipment dealers category. In 2002, building materials and garden equipment dealers posted total retail sales of $300.9 billion on 9 percent growth over 2000 results of $276.2 billion (see Figure 8.10). But while the building materials segment, which includes sales by The Home Depot, Lowe's, and other home centers, grew 9.8 percent overall, the garden equipment and supplies side, much smaller by comparison, posted only 5.8 percent growth over 2000 results. These numbers tell the story of garden retail: The home centers like The Home Depot and Lowe's are drawing more and more sales out of the specialty garden center market. The winners in the gardening retail business include The Home Depot with 1,500 stores and 40 EXPO Design Center stores and sales in calendar year 2002 in excess of $58.3 billion; and Lowe's, the number-two home center chain, with 850 superstores in 45 states, and sales in 2002 of $26.5 billion.




% CHG '00-'02

Total Personal Consumption in millions




Building materials dealers




Hardware stores




Garden suppliers




Source: Department of Census, Monthly Retail Census

Figure 8.10: Building Materials and Garden Retailers Industry Snapshot

The National Gardening Association's 2001 consumer survey confirms this finding. The top source for households to buy garden-related products in 2001 was home centers, used by 38 percent of garden consumers. While lawn and garden centers and nurseries were the second most frequently used source by 36 percent of garden-consuming households, the mass merchants and discounters are also increasing their share of consumer sales, ranked number three with 35 percent of the market for garden purchases in 2001.

Purchase Drivers

Spending on outdoor landscaping is often seen as an investment that increases the value of the home, and thus gives consumers justification to spend more to improve the lawn, patio, and outdoor areas. With consumers emerging from the indoor cocoon, they are turning their decorating energy outdoors with increased spending on both plant materials and decorative accents.

Gardening demands physical labor and therefore is a great way to relieve stress. As one focus group respondent explains: "Gardening is my husband's stress relief. Every year he puts in a garden, and it saves his sanity. He likes to work in the yard." Besides offering exercise, gardening appeals to people because it makes their yards look better, more attractive, and more inviting. Another respondent who is devoted to her yard says: "I love showing off my yard. I love to have friends over and to eat on the patio. I like them to admire my garden. I like to get praise and appreciation for my work and for them to recognize my accomplishment. Gardening is hard work."

For some, maintaining their yard to the standards of the neighborhood is a factor, but most do it solely for personal enjoyment. Another respondent explains: "I just bought a lilac bush. I have always loved lilac— it's my favorite fragrance. Of course, it will make my yard look nicer, but I bought it for me." Another says: "I grew up on a farm, so I look at gardening as a necessity. It gives pleasure, relieves stress. After all, your house has to look as good as everyone else's in the neighborhood."

However, what can be stress relieving for one can be stress inducing for another. Some view the need to keep their yard up with their neighbors' yards as one more obligation: "I find it stressful. It is something I have to do, and it has to get done. It's not something I want to do."

Demographic Variables

With about 56 percent of households reporting they bought flowers, seeds, shrubs, and trees for outdoor landscaping in the past year, men and women participate in gardening purchases about equally. This is a category where the purchase incidence rises with age. Those aged 35 to 54 purchase more plant material for their gardens than younger and older consumers. White and Hispanic households spend more on plants for outdoor landscaping than blacks. Rising incomes, especially those of $75,000 and above, education levels, and household size all correlate with rising purchase incidence for the garden.

Key Demographics of Buyers of Flowers, Seeds, and Shrubs.

  • Men and women are equally involved.

  • Peak participation is between ages 35 and 54.

  • Purchase incidence rises with income and is the highest among $75,000 households and above.

  • Home ownership leads to greater incidence.

  • Households with two or more people buy more.

  • Higher educational levels leads to greater incidence.

Why People Buy Things They Don't Need. Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
Why People Buy Things They Dont Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior
ISBN: 0793186021
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 137

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