Arnold has offered seven ideas for different ways to group perennials for more effective and imaginative marketing:
"They are seeking planting solutions that satisfy their needs rather than simply to provide interest," said Arnold. "New consumers want to enjoy their outdoor spaces as places of relaxation, entertaining, socialising, getting back to nature and to have fun, without all the perceived hard work that gardening conjures up in their minds.
"Providing help, guidance and the right solutions for them means these new consumers will be encouraged to believe they can achieve success and inspire them to a lifetime of gardening enjoyment. Perennials no longer sell themselves simply because they come back year after year. It's now all about promoting the solutions they bring, so now is the time to take a look at how we can rethink perennials and show consumers a beautiful plant and, most importantly, a reason to buy it.
"In a nutshell, we producers and retailers need to promote the purpose of perennials or their functionality but we also need to keep the messaging simple, easy to understand and compelling to all consumers, regardless of their gardening knowledge or experience." Arnold's marketing ideas are:
1 Smaller Spaces "Outdoor living spaces are becoming smaller therefore marketing plants specifically for the patio, terrace or balcony offers huge opportunity for perennials. However, small-space plantings have long been the province of annuals, with perennials lagging behind. This is one area where perennials, annuals and small shrubs can come together to create wonderful year-round planting solutions. The combination choices are endless so you can be really creative and inspiring with your small-space displays."
2 Low-maintenance and ground cover "Time-poor consumers are seeking plants for their outdoor living spaces that require little care and attention, and reward them with trouble-free displays over a long period. Hardy geraniums, Heucherella and achillea are just three great choices to start with."
3 Water wise "Rather than using 'drought tolerant' when marketing perennials, use 'water wise' or 'water conserving' or simply 'requires less watering' to encourage consumers who want a trouble-free, low-maintenance solution. Coreopsis, herbs such as lavender and thyme, grasses, achillea and sedum all offer excellent low-watering planting solutions."
4 Edible perennials "Promoting perennials that double as food opens up a world of opportunities to sell more plants. Combining beauty and taste has a strong consumer appeal - such plants as lavenders, violas, hibiscus, Phlox paniculata and geraniums, combined with displays of herbs and vegetables, for in-store displays."
5 Long Flowering "Marketing the long flowering performance of perennials has real value for money resonance with consumers and will help to drive up sales. Hardy geraniums, echinacea, achillea, coreopsis and Delosperma are just a few ideas for long-flowering displays."
6 Back to Nature "Fuelled by the heightened awareness of the need to conserve, preserve and provide sustainable habitats for wildlife, consumers are willing to play their part in their own outdoor living spaces but need help and guidance to make the right choices. The range of perennial plants that can provide attractants and food sources for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects in the garden is enormous. Seed-bearing, nectar-producing perennials include agastache, buddleia, Gallardia, rudbeckia, sunflowers and lavenders - just a few of the massive choice of wildlife-beneficial perennials available."
7 Fragrance "Always a strong buying motivator, fragrance is a vitally important aspect of plant marketing. Try combining phlox, buddleia, viola, echinacea, dianthus and hardy geraniums with a range of aromatic herbs for a stunning, heavenly fragrant in-store plant display that is sure to get customers filling their shopping trolleys."