Hillsborough Extension Garden Blog

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The “Natural” Gardener: A Profile March 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hillsborough County Residential Horticulture @ 4:11 pm
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I just sat through a webinar hosted by the Garden Writers Association about, “Getting to Know the New Natural and Organic Gardener”. Based on a study conducted by IPSOS-Reid on behalf of ScottsMiracle-Gro, they were interested in determining the following:

  • Who are the consumers most interested in natural and organic gardening products?
  • What do they look like demographically?
  • What are their “green” attitudes and behaviors outside of gardening?
  • What are their concerns and motivations?

Here’s my summary of the take-away message. I hope you find this useful in some way…

2 Categories of product users:

  • Natural (meaning they had used a “natural” product for lawn/garden/indoor pest use in the last 12 months; they could have also used conventional products during this time)
  • Conventional (meaning they only used conventional products for lawn/garden/indoor use in the last 12 months)

For the most part, the “Natural” group tended to look like this:

  • 35 years old or younger
  • Have kids and pets
  • More likely to engage in DIY projects
  • More engaged in outdoor activities
  • More educated
  • More ethnically diverse
  • Interested in all types of plants (ornamentals and edibles)

Motivators for using natural products:

  • Environmental health
  • Children’s and pets’ health
  • Rate of chemical exposure
  • Overall safety
  • Perception that organically grown food is healthier and tastes better

Barriers to using Naturals:

  • Cost
  • Efficacy
  • Don’t understand how they work
  • Don’t believe that they work
  • Don’t feel that they need to use any product (natural or conventional) at all

Products labeled "eco-friendly" are more likely to be purchased than products labeled "organic".

Based on the survey, here are the key data that stood out the most:

  • Conventional products are chosen most often for insect control
  • The top destinations for purchasing all types of products (natural and conventional) are Home Depot (48%), Wal-Mart (36%) and Lowe’s (33%)
  • There is a general perception that natural products are more expensive than conventional products.
  • “Organic” is most recognized as a synonym with “natural” when it comes to product labeling, BUT consumers are more likely to purchase products that are labeled “natural” or “eco-friendly” rather than “organic”.
  • Products labeled “natural” are most often purchased for lawns and indoor insect control, while products labeled “eco-friendly” are most often purchased for gardens.
  • Natural product users are MORE LIKELY to water their lawns and gardens than conventional product users. (When asked by the media why, the response was that these individuals are probably more highly engaged and spend more time caring for their lawns and gardens, and therefore are probably more in-tune with when their lawns and gardens need water…)

What was most interesting to me about this whole thing was that marketing seems to be driving consumer choices more than science when it comes to lawn and landscape care. I realize this is not news, but it can be frustrating as an educator…

I would be curious to see how this data shakes out specifically for Florida, since Florida homeowners have much more in the way of lawn and landscape care issues than any other state (with the exception of maybe Hawaii).


2 Responses to “The “Natural” Gardener: A Profile”

  1. Carole Says:

    I would agree with the findings except for the age. You look at the age of the average Master Gardener and I’d say it is closer to 60 or 65 and we’re the ones that have gotten a good introduction to organic products.

    • mdabreau Says:

      Hi Carole. I, too, thought the average age was a bit low, but I think the interest in organic and natural gardening spans all ages. I’m eager to see the next phase of research that investigates all sides to organic gardening. 🙂

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