How does your garden mag grow?

Senior editor Alison Krog explains how the Tillington Group is using digital assets to reach out and connect with the next generation of gardeners

‘A tulip? Sorry mate, you’ve stumped me there’… Was the rather astonishing response from three quarters of 25-35 year olds when asked to identify this perennial spring favourite in a recent study of the age group’s gardening habits. Over half did not realise that a dandelion is a weed, while three in 10 had no idea what a garden hoe looked like.

Thank goodness then for the reassuring thud on the doormats of the 4.6+ million UK households that will receive the latest edition of Beautiful Gardens magazine, produced on behalf of the Tillington Group of garden centres by Haymarket Network for the past 14 years.

Because gardening is most definitely OTM. For practical reasons, there’s never been a better time to start growing your own as crummy weather conditions across the Channel force a black market for salad leaves, leaving supermarket shelves bare. Then there are the health benefits of getting active outdoors. Not just the physical exercise, but the boost to our mental wellbeing that contemplating campanulas or tiptoeing through aforementioned tulips can bring.

In such horticultural testing times Beautiful Gardens comes into its own. Its impressive print run makes it Britain’s best-read gardening magazine: a mass-market title that tackles a specialist subject and makes it relevant to everyone from the non-gardening clueless to green-fingered gurus.

Whether readers have space for a window box or a few acres to cultivate, they will find something in Beautiful Gardens that inspires them to hotfoot it down to their local Tillington Group garden centre. And creating content that motivates this enthusiasm is what the Haymarket Network team does best.

Just as the garden centres have metamorphosed over the years we have worked with them - diversifying their offer and transforming into leisure destinations rather than just places to buy plants - so the Beautiful Gardens media brand has evolved to meet the needs of the next generation of gardeners.

Now mobile-responsive, digital assets are playing an increasingly important role in the content marketing mix as the Tillington Group seeks to engage with and encourage that younger 25-35 year audience to give gardening a go.

Want to taste the freshest home-grown tomato? You’ll need to take the Grow Bag Challenge first. Just the job for Instagram. Then watch the longer step-by-step. See how easy it can be?

And by encouraging more consumers to start growing through delivering innovative, tonal gardening content through the channels they are most likely to respond to, we build and grow the community around our client’s brand, which impacts their ROI. As well as recording the biggest print run yet, the the 2016 edition of Beautiful Gardens magazine achieved the highest ever voucher redemption response - with one centre in the group achieving an 11% take up.

Andrew Evans, managing director of Ruxley Manor garden centre in Sidcup, comments: “In the years that the Tillington Group has been working with Haymarket Network, the garden retail sector has diversified and innovated to meet changing consumer needs and attract new audiences through our doors. The Beautiful Gardens media brand has remained at the forefront of that change due to the efforts that the team take to truly understand both our businesses and the the different personalities of the Group's 11 brands. As we expand our content offer with a range of digital assets, we are excited by the opportunities and potential that working with Haymarket Network in the future will bring.”