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Using Christmas to attract your target market

Santa's magical postbox where children can deliver their letters to Santa. Photo: Arboretum.

We spoke with Arboretum's marketing executive, Jessica Kelly on how Arboretum attracts their target market through unique Christmas displays and events.



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20 December 2017

Christmas presents a unique opportunity for garden centre retailers. Not only are the two of most recognisable plants – holly and ivy – synonymous with Christmas, but it is one of a few days of the calendar where consumers en masse will actively purchase products to decorate their house with, both inside and out.

Besides the numerous products that can be sold, the Christmas period presents a unique marketing opportunity for garden centres. We spoke with Jessica Kelly, marketing executive of Arboretum garden centres, to find out how Arboretum attracted consumers this Christmas and how, through a unique loyalty scheme, experiences a growing loyal customer base.

Arboretum, Carlow, offered young families “A breakfast with Santa” where on any Saturday morning in December, on the run-up to Christmas, families could enjoy breakfast together in the centre’s own Rachel’s Garden Cafe.

Kelly said: “When families come into Rachel’s Garden Cafe they are greeted by Santa’s elves who will help the families in and give the children Christmas crackers to play with.

“We have setup conservatory styled tables, which are reserved for the families, in a separate section away from our general clientele who come in for breakfast. When the children are nearly finished their breakfast the elves announce that Santa is on his way and when he comes he rings his bell and chats away to them all.

“We have a special throne setup for Santa when he’s done chatting to the kids and they go up one by one to get their photographs taken and get their gift from Santa.

“Our main target market would be younger families, we obviously cater to older generations as well, but a huge part of our target market would be younger families with small kids.

“They come in here on weekends and on a regular basis, so we want to appeal to them and show them we have something for the whole family not just the kids – to make having breakfast with Santa a day out for the entire family.” Kelly concluded.

Breakfast with Santa is the main Santa experience at Arboretum, but they try to do things differently. On November 18, Santa arrived to the garden centre by helicopter and a week later the breakfast with Santa began.

Nutcracker soldiers on show at Arboretum garden centres. Photo: Arboretum.

Nutcracker soldiers on show at Arboretum garden centres. Photo: Arboretum.

“We also had two reindeer arrive at the garden centre which were here up until December 18. We had them at the back of Arboretum – we named them Donner and Blitzen. When the children come in they can pop down and see them and they are completely free of charge.” said Kelly.

“We also have two large interactive displays – a big penguin band and elves playing music – as well as a post box where children can post their letters to Santa. The stamps cost €3 and all of the proceeds go to the Laura Lynn foundation.” Kelly concluded.

Creating a community

When garden centre retailers hold events like Arboretum’s, they are creating a sense of community between the consumer and the garden centre. For many, a garden centre is a place where they can go to browse, eat, purchase, and explore new plants and ideas, enhancing this experience and creating a connection will create loyalty which in turn will increase sales and revenue.

Kelly said: “Events like breakfast with Santa is definitely creating a sense of community. At Arboretum it is about moving towards a lifestyle hub where people can come and spend the day.

“Mid-week a lot of our clientele would be local but at the weekends we get people coming from Carlow, Kildare, Wicklow, and Dublin, so especially mid-week there is a huge sense of community, especially with the locals.”

A rise in sales

When you build a community of invested consumers you want to keep their dedication to your store, so many garden centres offer a variety of loyalty schemes to convert that sense of community into regular custom.

Kelly explained: “We have a rewards programme called A-List rewards which is purely rewards based; it’s not points based or stamp collection based. It is simply rewards.

“People sign up and they can receive a free slice of cake for example for different months. We keep it limited to 2-3 emails a month: a welcome email, a birthday email – for when it is a customer’s birthday – and event emails. We don’t like to spam our customers so we keep it to a few emails per month.

“We ran customer appreciation nights for our A-List members in the months running up to Christmas, where they received 20% off of their purchases for Christmas. It works extremely well for Arboretum and for the members as well. In the space of three years we have accumulated over 45,000 members and all the customer has to do is signup and they’ll receive their card at the till.”

Kelly concluded by saying: “People need to start moving forward when it comes to loyalty programmes. They need to look at their customer as their priority. Just by what we’ve done, it’s so evident how it creates a strong loyalty with the customer. It’s a good relationship between retailer and customer and it is not just purely sales, sales, sales. We are looking after them, we are interested in what they are interested in, and it brings them back into our store.”

You can check out Arboretum events and more at:

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