Botanical Bars Recent research found that 1.2million people have an allotment and 34% of people grow fruit or vegetables in it. “GYO is still very important – people still love it. There’s lots going on around it and more desire from people to understand where their food comes from,” Mr Sommers said. It can be accessed by anyone; young, old, or those with big or small spaces, which makes it a perfect opportunity for retailers to get their customers involved if they are interested. Over the last few years there has also been a growing movement towards vegetarianism and veganism, and Mr Sommers said people are incorporating fresh plants into their cooking, but this is now being extended into using them in cocktail making, too. “If plants are beautiful, they earn a spot on the windowsill. Cocktails are very popular right now, so what about introducing a cocktail garden or a gin garden?”, said Mr Sommers, who included a botanical bar in the Retail Lab. “It’s a really big trend now and you see botanical prints everywhere. I’ve based it on one I created before with a greenhouse that is about 3sq m – it is a small space but it is still really effective.” If focusing on the kitchen

gardener, Romeo advised a need to think smaller and chicer. He said: “We see a move away from muddy vegetable patches; today gardens are more visually appealing. If you live in the city and you don’t have a big garden, you can have a micro garden and use your plants in the botanical bar; this can be displayed in an area in your garden centre, try to make it a seamless transition.”

Social media channels are so popular and people want to use fresh plants and flowers in their pictures, with a move to a more natural lifestyle being a huge hit with younger people. Garden centres should have areas that are “instagrammable” Mr Sommers said, where the visual aesthetic is perfectly set up for selfies and photographs to be shared across people’s social profiles.

“People love Instagram pictures – if they make a cake look beautiful with edible flowers, they will take a photo and share that on social media, it reaches their friends who aren’t necessarily your customers but could become your customers. I want to surprise the customer before they surprise me, each time they come into the garden centre, try to do something new.” He added: “All retail shops have their own identity – I think this is important for garden centres too, try to establish your own identity and keep it fresh. Try and see if you can make small displays that you can change easily. If you went to a clothes shop that only changed twice a year, you wouldn’t shop there, so why would you accept it from a garden centre?”

Sensory experiences Google searches for air purifying plants and Aloe Vera went up 550% in 2017 and searches for snake plants went up by 700%. “Houseplant mania is picking up momentum but you have to show people what they can do with a houseplant. They are very trendy but what else can they do – what are the benefits? Nowadays environmentalists are

The Botanical Bar in the Retail Lab at Glee 2018

doing things for the planet but they also want to benefit and feel good. Indoor plants are beautiful in the house but they also purify the air, make you feel better, de-stress and help symptoms of ADHD,” said Mr Sommers. “I created three different rooms in the retail lab: a green room that showed how houseplants are good at purifying the air, promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and have good scents; a pink room, the colour of friendship, harmony and working together where you are asked to think what the scents do for you; and a yellow room where you can feel the energy of the vibrant colour.” When you are selling tiles or stones, Mr Sommers said these are materials that are best demonstrated with a sensory experience. “I created a barefoot path. It is sensory and has grass, stones, moss, bark and sand,” he explained. “Let people experience the differences between the cheaper and more expensive stones/gravel, for example, make it


an experience and show them what the difference is.” Plants are perfect for customers

interested in beauty too, as beauty products could use plants and organic ingredients. “They have de-toxifying benefits for the skin,” said Mr Sommers. “You could create a cushion for feet with moss – do a beauty treatment using botanical plants.”

Retailers should be attempting to appeal to all different types of shoppers, for customers who are an environmentalist but they want to have it easy, Mr Sommers said there are “Micro drips, which will feed your plants while you are on the go, a robot lawn mower, light garden furniture that can be moved around easily, and it’s the same with plant pots that are big and look heavy but are actually made of very lightweight materials.” Mr Sommers reiterated: “Garden

centre retailers need to offer good quality products, help people, inspire people, make it easy but don’t judge them.”

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