Additionally, MGA's research finds that gardeners who buy via direct mail skew more female than male (60 percent are female, 40 percent are male). And the average MGA gardener income level is $63,000, although Butterfield points out that income levels for the broader gardening market vary considerably. For example, he points out, "You find retirees are really important to this market, and they have a fixed income."
Buying Habits and Preferences
Despite the encroachment of retail-only chains such as Lowe's and Home Depot on this traditionally direct response-heavy market, experts believe direct mail will maintain a solid footing in the future, if only for the uniquely sourced merchandise it can offer. "[Mail order is] the only way you can get certain seeds, certain bulbs and certain tools," insists Joe Lamoglia, director of membership and development at the American Horticultural Society. "The variety of plants out there couldn't be held in one physical place."
In fact, 59 percent of mail-order gardeners cited "unique merchandise not available elsewhere" as their main reason for ordering gardening products by mail in 2002. Conversely, "If they can buy it at Home Depot, they probably don't care to have it mailed to them," affirms Butterfield. In other words, gardeners crave fresh, original product.
They also crave information, and industry experts anecdotally cite this as the reason much of the gardening market is very Internet-savvy. The Internet's convenience also suits the truly avid gardener, according to Bill LaPierre, a list broker at Millard Group, which handles an array of gardening lists. "If you've ordered seeds through the mail, and you order $20 worth of seeds at $1 a bag, you have 20 lines to fill on the order form," he says. "These consumers are more apt to just click through an order."
Though the first and second quarters of the year are undoubtedly the busiest time of year for gardeners to buy, the market is rapidly turning into one that profits throughout the year. One reason: People are planning their gardens even when they're not planting them—during fall and especially winter.