Purchase behaviors of online and mobile gardening consumers

Increasing numbers of consumers are searching for gardening information online. Men are more likely to make online gardening purchases, but women are more likely to research gardening-related products.

A mobile-ready sign with QR-codes hung in your garden center will enhance sales. Photo credit: Heidi Wollaeger, MSU Extension

A mobile-ready sign with QR-codes hung in your garden center will enhance sales. Photo credit: Heidi Wollaeger, MSU Extension

Having personally stood in a store and shopped the competition on my smart phone to try to get the best deal on products, it got me to thinking, “How many other consumers do the same?” According to the Mobile Future Focus Report conducted in 2011, I am still in the minority of the population (12 percent) who has compared prices to that of the competition in a store. Do consumers also perform Internet searches for gardening products and how does it influence their purchasing behavior? What segment of the population is more likely to perform Internet searches for information and products in the garden center?

Michigan State University Extension specialist Bridget Behe and her colleagues examined the purchasing behavior for both mobile and desktop Internet searches for gardening products in 2011. They surveyed 2,511 North American consumers and found that approximately half of the survey participants owned a smart phone and they performed Internet searches on it 1.8 days a week on average. Also, approximately half of the participants had searched online for gardening information, while only 18 percent had made a gardening-related purchase online. While 18 percent seems relatively low, that number has increased 240 percent from a survey published by Behe in 2008, which showed that only 7.4 percent of consumers had bought a garden-related product online.

In the survey, researchers also found that women were more likely to search online for gardening and non-gardening information, but men were more likely to actually make a gardening purchase as a result of an online search. This implies that while women might research gardening information and products online, they still prefer to shop in a garden center for those purchases. Behe and her colleagues also found that having gardening information easily accessible by both a mobile device and by a desktop computer also increased the likelihood of gardening sales. In fact, consumers were 19 percent more likely to make gardening-related purchases after having made garden-related searches.

Therefore, garden centers should take advantage of the increasing trend of consumers performing online and mobile searches to help drive sales. First, garden centers should consider developing a website with products and gardening-related information. In addition, greenhouse businesses should consider developing a mobile-optimized website so that consumers can quickly and efficiently find your products while they are using their smart phone.

For more information on how to make your greenhouse business mobile-ready, read “Is Your Greenhouse Business Smartphone Ready?”