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The last two days have been really insightful into the business world of horticulture as I have started undertaking the bulk of my desk market research. Exploring the ‘Do You Know What It’s Like Out There?” section of the booklet as well as a webinar from HMRC I looked at what sorts of information I need to get from my research and how to analyse the results. My research results also helped to narrow down my target market as many reports from the industry more closely classify consumers into more specific groups. And finally I had a good look at how I want this business to function and what sorts of values and principles I want to uphold.

Some of the most important information I got out of the webinar was separating data in quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative is the bulk of stats and numbers that measure the market that I’m aiming to sell to and qualitative is the information that drives that market to buy. This is really important for the questionnaire I plan to distribute so that i can get the most out of my questions. With a handful of questions in mind I’m trying to narrow down the questionnaire to Home Feature (Quantitative), Lifestyle Choices (Qualitative), and Garden Services (Both). I’ve also decided that while I will make an online version, it also really important to start meeting my target market and so having physical questionnaires.

This means understanding my target market more so I know the places which we can meet. Thankfully the HTA has an excellent base of data for understanding the horticultural industry and publish annual reports. From the 2014 report I found that they separate consumers into nine categories based on interest and ability in gardening and then draw out similar characteristics between them. For the purpose of my business the four key groups in this are Gardening Elderly (12% of households), Gardening Proud (18%), Convenience Gardener (11%) and Family Focus (7%). These groups are the most likely to be attracted to any of the three products/services I offer. Between these groups it seems that some of the best ways to contact them is through gardening TV and magazines as well as premium garden centers and community gardens. This helps immensely as I now have a place, garden centers, to ask potential customers to fill out my questionnaire.

The last part of my research was on the structure and ethics of this business. It has already been mentioned that I had planned at becoming a social enterprise and after seeing the process and benefits of running a non profit for what most see as a lucrative business. The most important reason for being a non profit is abiding by the Permaculture Ethics of 1. Care for People, 2. Care for Earth, and 3. Return of Excess. By recycling profit back into the company, customers and communities it helps to create a more resilient and positive business. Examining each product/service and treating each like part of an ecosystem where resources and by products from each can be cycled into the other creating less redundancies and more synergy. For this reason, instead of adopting the Permaculture model of principles I’ve looked instead to John T Lyle and his Regenerative Design for Sustainable Development as they touch more on technological and information based energies that this business must deal with.

Tomorrow a lot of this information will be examined and analysed using the models taught by Prince’s Trust that will hopefully answer more questions that it’ll inevitably pose.

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