Research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 78% of adults use smartphones but, according to one hi-tech horticultural company, most garden centres are failing to engage with their tech-savvy customers.
The study found that mobiles were the most popular devices across most age groups, apart from those aged 65+ years, who preferred a tablet for internet shopping, entertainment and research purposes.
Terri Jones, managing director of Berkshire-based plant information company Joy of Plants, which provides Plant Finder touchscreen kiosks for garden centre’s plant areas, said: “A high percentage of adults, from millennials to tech-savvy Generation X and baby boomers, are using touchscreens on a regular basis, whether it be on their smartphones or tablets.
“They will be using them in a number of ways from shopping, socialising or research. These devices are part of their everyday lives so why not incorporate them into a retail environment? Creating a modern plant area to appeal to these tech-savvy gardeners is key if garden centres want to develop and grow new markets.
In addition, research conducted at the start of this year by Common Sense Gardening shows that 84% of millennials would not garden unless it was simple to do so.
The generation, now in their 20s and 30s, said they would garden if they had easy-to-maintain outdoor spaces and if the activity was made much easier for them.
Ms Jones added: “Younger people haven’t been brought up with the same cultural points of reference as their parents and grandparents were, so they need extra guidance and assistance to help them understand where to start with plants.
“It’s important to reach them in a way they are comfortable with. Millennials are tech obsessed and they research things online. They are used to touchscreen technology and they are highly driven by visual content… By creating a modern plant area, garden centres are providing a pull for millennials, which the gardening sector is working hard to encourage, without alienating the 50+ generation either, as they are embracing smart technology.”
Joy of Plants has already installed Plant Finder touchscreen kiosks for Blue Diamond, Haskins Roundstone Garden Centre in West Sussex, Everton Nurseries in Hampshire, Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk, Ferndale Garden Centre in Derbyshire and Busy Bees Garden Centre on the Isle of Wight.