Marketing Lawn and Garden Products in the Springtime
Media timing matters to drive homeowners and professional landscapers into outdoor power equipment dealers, lawn and garden stores, or nursery centers. The question becomes, when is the best time to do it? Others wonder if it worth even doing it all?
For the former, those who believe that spending money on media in Spring drives demand, it probably is an easier discussion to have than the later – for those that don’t think it works. So, let’s first start with easy one.
Spring is a catch-all term for most of the country signaling a time of resurrection out of Winter. But advertisers, it isn’t as simple to draw a line in the sand across every 43,000 US ZIP Codes and say, hey March 21st is here. And so is your bloom. Even with more predictable local weather patterns, each portion of the country has variances on when grass grows. And in some parts, like Southeast US, and SoCal, some stuff just grows all year long. So how does a media company try to time it right when they are challenged to splinter budgets across national, regional, and local marketing spend? Probably easier then one would think using the basic rule of thumb of the latitude difference + time. For example, New Jersey’s latitude is nearly 39 degrees. Massachusetts is about 3 degrees greater, at 42 degrees. Georgia is about 33 degrees. The basic rule of thumb is that every degree of latitude is equal to one week. So, New Jersey is blooming trees about three weeks ahead of Massachusetts, and Georgia is about nine weeks ahead of Massachusetts. These blooming trends can be the envy of every golfer who watches the Masters on TV in April and is just itching to play golf with blooming Rhody’s. With nearly 20 weeks or degrees of latitude from the most Southern Part of US to most Northern, this makes for an exciting challenge to time out the national, regional and local media. By default, national buying windows can be somewhat restrictive to gain the efficiency of media impressions, or GRP buys. It does have the flexibility to hit some of the “shoulder seasons, ” but in reality, not many companies can spend nationally for 3-4 months straight. Regionally, it provides more flexibility, but in turn, the purchase is challenged to create a scale to drive down costs. Local buy “crawls” spend over many weeks called “Spring.” These wide variances also make it attractive for any territory manager calling on commercial customers across many states. This isn’t new news, but worthy of reflecting on the opportunity lost or gained.
As for the non-believers that media drives demand, they have an argument that when grass grows, people create the demand, not advertising. If the mower doesn’t work, or they need a new pair of loppers, regardless of when Spring happens in their town, they need a new mower and a new lopper. And whatever local dealer out of convenience or path of least resistance just so happens to have products in the store already represents greater than a 60% chance of purchase success based on product elasticity models proven over years of research. So why try to spend a boatload of money trying to convince a person to buy, say a Toro over a Murray, when it only matters what is being carried at their local dealer. Even still, when the two different brands are on the same floor, price elasticity is little and the competition has very little wiggle room to undercut one price (i.e. subsidizing profits for loyalty) if competition is making the same approach. And to lay more claim, of the 100% of the people who come in looking for a particular brand (e.g. brand preference), 50% buy someone else’s product. So nearly 50% of your media spend goes to the other guys. So let the bad buys spend their money, and you make sure the product is at the dealer. Viola, sales occur. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you saw a national, regional or even local advertising for car fresheners?
At least their trees are green all year long.
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