With research revealing that almost 80 percent of American households participate in one or more types of lawn and garden activity, and that each one spends $466 annually, it seems the amateur gardeners' market is one that's—ahem—ripe for the mailing.
But much like weeds, a few challenges persistently crop up when hunting for, and mailing to, names in this market. Chief among these is the market's breadth—the term "gardener" can apply as easily to someone with potted plants on an apartment balcony as it can to someone with a large vegetable garden.
"Any time you've got eight out of 10 households in America doing the same thing, you've got pretty much everybody," says Bruce Butterfield, market research director at the National Gardening Association (NGA).
Another challenge is the increasing market share that home-goods retail chains now claim in the gardening sector.
Still, there's no reason why, with a little extra effort and some careful targeting, tapping into the gardening market can't yield a bounty of qualified prospects for appropriate mailers.
The gardener market skews toward an older demographic, a finding anecdotal evidence seems to support.
According to survey results released from the Mailorder Gardening Association (MGA), the mail-order gardener's average age is 50.
"People are genetically programmed to garden if they get gray hair," jokes NGA's Butterfield. He says membership in his association also trends toward the 50-plus demographic. "The baby boom is hitting middle age," he explains. "In your thirties you're concentrated on work, in your forties it's family, and in your fifties your kids are grown and you have time to pursue your own interests."
Plus, he adds, since boomers are now hitting their financial stride, they often view their home as their most promising investment, and take up gardening to add value to it.