Edith Keller – CEO of Carlin Trend Bureau: First of all, have you noticed a real change in terms of consumption on site and in the stores ?
Vincent Avignon – Jardiland Brand Director: The health crisis has clearly disrupted consumer behavior. During the first weeks of confinement, only the animal feed, food and vegetable garden sections of our stores were open. Before opening completely in mid-April, we completely reorganized ourselves into points of sale in order to be able to guarantee the safety of our employees and our customers. In that context, we have indeed observed a real craze for click&collect (+60% of sales on this circuit, which for a few weeks was the only way to obtain ornamental plants) but also a new behavior at the point of sale strictly speaking. While traditionally, our stores are “shopping” destinations, places where people like to stroll, we were able to observe more functional store visits. And that’s the important point to understand, the health crisis occurred while we were in the “high commercial season” (50% of purchases in garden centers occur in Spring). As every year, the French needed to equip themselves to prepare their garden. Perhaps a little more this year, they wanted to have fun growing plants. We have been deploying an omni-channel strategy for several years, and this period has shown us how essential it has to be able to respond to the desires and needs of our customers in both physical and digital environments.
E.K: Were the city or the country vegetable gardens the stars during the containment ?
V.A: Generally speaking, the period we have been through, a period when the French were focused on the essential desires, has reinforced us in the fundamentals of our profession. Because our job is rightly to meet the essential needs of the French in the garden. So yes, indeed, and we’ve been seeing it for several years, many French people want to take their food destiny in hand, and to do so they cultivate a vegetable garden. Thus we have seen young urban couples, who took advantage of the period to join this dynamic, sometimes with the desire to cultivate forgotten plants and vegetables. We have also seen that through family reunions, the vegetable garden has been able to impose itself as a vector of transmission, pedagogy and family activity, bringing together parents and children in particular. Finally, a certain number of our customers, whether by tradition or by the search for economy, have continued to perpetuate their vegetable gardening activity: sowing, cultivating, preserving, consuming… for some of them, a vegetable garden is an opportunity to eat healthy and sufficient food all year round.
E.K: Do you think you have facilitated family ties during the Covid, especially with gardening? Have you had any testimonials on this subject?
V.A: Clearly, gardening met many needs during the health crisis. First of all, gardening has been able to establish itself as a well-being activity, alone, as a couple or as a family. While we were in a particularly anxious period, full of uncertainties, gardening could be lived and practiced at the height of its benefits: an activity where I do myself good, where I take care of a plant, an activity that can be modest but on which one has a grip, an activity that generates results in terms of aesthetics, nourishment, or simply satisfaction, an authentic and useful activity where one connects with the living. What’s more, we have particularly witnessed that the quest for self-sufficiency, which has been developing for several years, has gained strength across all generations.
E.K: Do you feel that you contributed to the reduction of stress during the Covid?
V.A: Certainly, gardening may have helped to alleviate the difficulties experienced by French men and women. Whether by allowing an activity of cultivation and openness to the environment with the children, by learning the patience of the vegetal rhythm – “carpe diem”, every day is enough – by envisaging a path towards food self-sufficiency, or more broadly by allowing one to project oneself into the future, to envisage new projects for the development of one’s exterior… gardening has been able to be part of the development of the resilience of French men and women during this period.
E.K: Which activities were the most popular?
V.A: The 3 most successful activities are :
- The layout of its green space, interior, window sill, garden with an increasingly successful aesthetic research.
- The setting in reasoned and optimized culture.
- Educational activities.
E.K: Organic, is of course a well-established trend, do you see an increase in sales of organic in all plant treatments ? Do you notice the increase of “home-made” products?
V.A: More than the “organic” label strictly speaking, we observe that consumers aspire to take back in hand their food destiny and their consumption behaviors more widely. We can see that the desire for local, short circuit, local, healthy are more and more prevalent. This is something that we are translating into concrete terms in terms of gardening, our ambition being to share and democratize alternative cultivation and gardening techniques, in order to consume ever more efficiently.
E.K: Tendency towards feminization in tools (lighter, more comfortable…) seems essential but despite everything still shy do you have projects on this subject?
V.A: Our job is to offer our customers the products and services that correspond to their desires and needs. We therefore work largely to always innovate in this dynamic, with the leitmotif of offering products and services to the best users/prices.
E.K: Are you going to develop new products related to well-being indoors and outdoors, such as noise absorbers for example?
V.A: Our job at Jardiland is to help our customers cultivate their well-being! All the products and services in this respect have their place at Jardiland. Whatever the subject, we are currently working on sound and visual insulation, while respecting the environmental standards as much as possible, from design to store installation.
E.K: Your stores has brought a lot of comfort during the containment, what will be your post-covid ambition?
V.A: What guides our initiatives is the ambition to act so that everyone has access to the benefits of nature. This ambition is strong, but particularly necessary in the world in which we all now live.
E.K: Thank you very much for this interview and this ambition that makes us dream!