Waitrose’s decision to grow its gardening and floristry range is based on good business sense (sales of plants up by 25% last year and the growth of the industry as a whole on the rise), but its success will depend on how committed it remains to the sector.
Any foray into new territories by established brands such as Waitrose are likely to enjoy success initially, even if just for the novelty value. However, for it to enjoy continued success in a market which is clearly set for bigger and better things, it needs to show customers that it is serious about the sector and demonstrate consistency, innovation and originality. The advantage Waitrose has, of course, is that its customer set is known to include those for which gardening is a key interest, alongside cooking, an area which Waitrose has managed to successfully build upon in terms of its product offering The route they need to take with the gardening sector is to similarly offer expert advice on the products and lines they are introducing and guide its customers to support a hobby they are already invested in.
In terms for the brands in this sector, the key for them is to recognise Waitrose as a major player, competing with the likes of B&Q and Homebase. Once Waitrose has the brands on its side, it will have a much easier job of winning the customers over. By engaging with customers directly, hosting in-store activity alongside brands and showcasing its strengths as a platform for these brands to interact with people, Waitrose will have a real chance of establishing themselves as a real contender in the gardening market.
Rupert Cook, Business Development Director, Gekko