Consumers rate 'green' retailers

Opportunities for the garden industry have been highlighted by the latest HTA research into consumers' approach to the environment.

HTA research through five focus groups in June, at St Albans, York and Eastleigh, looked into what consumers know about green issues, which specific issues concern them the most and whether they consider garden centres to have green credentials.

The majority of respondents said waste, recycling and packaging were their top environmental concerns. The HTA concluded that:

- Garden centres need to be careful to avoid "greenwashing";

- Consumers don't respond well to general environmental claims about products/businesses;

- There is a considerable opportunity to tap into the "pester power" of children;

- Consumers want to buy local products to support their community/local economy, but they are less convinced about the environmental reasons for doing so;

- Consumers are most concerned about environmental issues they can do something about, such as packaging and recycling;

- Consumers want "controlled wildlife" in their gardens - mainly because it is good to look at - but they are keen not to encourage pests.

Suggestions

To improve green credentials, garden centres could:

- Offer pot recycling facilities;

- Use more biodegradable pots;

- Promote grow-your-own with in-store point-of-sale/leaflets;

- Incorporate farm shops or host farmers' markets to tap into demand for local food;

- Promote locally grown plants more aggressively on labelling and point-of-sale, with the emphasis on supporting local economy;

- Offer wildlife-related products, especially aimed at children.


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