Although it’s a relatively small niche market in the consumer catalog universe, the gardening segment has deep roots in the industry. Indeed, the Mailorder Gardening Association, a nonprofit organization serving mail order companies that market gardening products to consumers, recently celebrated its 70th anniversary.
According to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, mailers specializing in seeds, bulbs, plants, backyard decor, and other horticulture accoutrements account for roughly 3.7% of all 12-month buyers available for list rental or exchange. As of the third quarter of 2004, the 12-month active universe for the gardening catalog market was 6.2 million, down 3% from the previous year but up nearly 7% from two years prior.
Big gainers in terms of active buyers, according to ParadyszMatera, include Kinsman Co.’s Gardener’s Catalog. Launched in 1981, the catalog of European-inspired garden gear has an active buyer file of 37,000 — small, yes, but up an impressive 98% from the previous year. Another gainer, Dutch Gardens — part of the Plantron stable of horticulture catalogs — has more than 100,000 12-month buyers, a 71% year-over-year increase. The title, which specializes in bulbs, has experimented with a number of premiums, such as plants and books, on orders of more than $50.
Also making great strides has been Michigan Bulb Co. Between the third quarter of 2003 and the third quarter of 2004, its 12-month buyer file grew 60%, to more than 200,000 names. That’s the title’s peak since former parent company Foster & Gallagher declared bankruptcy in 2001 and sold it to another multititle mailer, MySeasons.
|Rank||List name||3Q 2004 house file universe||Average order|
|1||Plow and Hearth||774,816||$70|
|2||Gardener’s Supply Co.||460,967||$73|
|3||House of Wesley||351,000||$35|
|4||Jackson and Perkins||310,000||$80|
|5||Spring Hill Nurseries||293,223||$60|