Christmas has undoubtedly become the most wonderful time of the year for the 11 independent garden centres in the Tillington Group. In fact, the revenue stream it generates is now as essential to their businesses’ growth as the flurry of horticultural enthusiasm that drives footfall through their doors in spring.
As the bleaker months approach, and all but the most ardent gardeners follow the hedgehog’s lead into hibernation, Tillington Group centres magically metamorphose into sparkling winter wonderlands. Their traditional retail offer is overshadowed by irresistible Christmas crowd pleasers such as Santa’s grottos, real reindeer, wreath-making workshops, festive menus, gifts galore and even ice-skating rinks.
And along with this transformation comes the opportunity to attract new audiences, in particular the younger couples and families who may not fit typical garden centre customer personas, but for whom a visit to Squire’s, Ruxley Manor, Bents, Webbs, Altons, Scotsdales et al has become the perfect way to get Christmas off to the very best start.
Playing no small part in this glut of goodwill towards the Tillington Group consortium is Beautiful Christmas magazine. Now in its 8th year, the sister publication to Beautiful Gardens – which Haymarket Network has published since 2003 – is more than just a product showcase. At a time when householders’ doormats are awash with unsolicited seasonal catalogues and DM, Beautiful Christmas magazine stands out from the crowd, demanding attention through its understanding of what readers truly want:
Although more than 3 million copies of Beautiful Christmas magazine are distributed throughout the UK, this is far from a mass-market title. Haymarket Network creates an impressive 22 bespoke versions by complementing a raft of common content with personalised cover and centre sections that allow each centre to make the magazine truly its own.
Research carried out by Haymarket Network on behalf of the Tillington Group this year revealed that consumers in the centres’ catchment areas have a strong desire to support local enterprise. Beautiful Christmas rewards this loyalty with a sense of belonging to a family business that offers far more than any DIY chain or high street store, and recognition is provided via vouchers that keep customers coming back for more.
From exploding confetti crackers to Pawsecco for your pets, Beautiful Christmas puts the spotlight on the unexpected, emphasising that the only place to go when you want something really special is your local garden centre.
Overwhelm your customers with choice, and you can increase the stress of making a purchasing decision; indeed, they may even opt to buy elsewhere*. That’s why Beautiful Christmas magazine values quality, original imagery over quantity of product shots. And the number of featured items per page is always pleasing to the eye to ensure their pulling power.
The past few years have seen Tillington Group garden centres diversify and expand to become local leisure destinations – places you can easily spend all day. This is more relevant than ever in the run up to Christmas. And Beautiful Christmas communicates this breadth of offer to provide consumers with a welcome and compelling alternative to traipsing the high street.
* In ‘The Paradox of Choice’, American author Barry Schwartz makes the case that overwhelming choice makes everyday decision increasingly complex, while eliminating choices can greatly reduce the stress, anxiety, and busyness of our lives.