Analysis by Sheila Eggleston Bread, milk, weedkiller and plant food isn't such an unlikely mix in the shopping basket. As retailers continue to extend their offer to consumers, garden products is an obvious area to exploit. At stake is a bigger slice of a total garden market worth more than £2bn, mainly accounted for by fertilisers, composts and plant protection products [Source: HPR]. The stereotype 65-plus garden enthusiast has become less of a target. Manufacturers are focusing more on younger people, particularly women, with less time on their hands, who live by the one stop shop philosophy and want all their needs in one basket. Undoubtedly TV gurus such as Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock have helped woo this discerning public and companies have been quick to respond. US company Scotts dominates the market with convenient, ready to use products such as Miracle-Gro Pour & Feed plant food, Weedol Gun! and Pathclear Gun! All are targeted at 25 to 45 year olds. The company has grown through acquiring the garden divisions of Zeneca and Fisons. It also has the global distribution rights of Monsanto's weed killer Round Up. National account controller Charles Conder says the company believes the secret to success is to have strong brands with strong marketing, and be able to manage the fixture for retailers. He adds: "We succeed by putting in a restricted range of high volume lines for the season. Retailers such as Asda have found they have achieved growth by simplifying their offer. "This market is very seasonal with 80% of our sales between April and the beginning of August. On a pro rata basis, in that period, the fertiliser and chemical market is bigger than brown bread and baked beans." Scotts has shaken off its agrochemical image to become wholly involved in retailing and consumer care products. "We think more about brands and packaging now, and more convenient, easy to use products," adds Conder. Price doesn't seem to be as much an issue as it is in food. Conder explains: "This isn't a destination category. It's a twice a year purchase, so there's a limit to how much people buy. It's more about prices with which people are comfortable." This year Scotts spent £5m on TV ads fronted by TV smoothie Des Lynam to push the brand during the peak April to June period, and it plans to increase its support in 2001. All the multiples, led by Asda and Tesco, have a dedicated instore garden care sector except Safeway, which has a minimal range sold alongside its pot plants and flowers. Tesco believes there is a market to expand. It is winding down its summer range to make way for a new autumn garden care range. Fifty lines include garden tools and plant pots. Asda hasn't made any decisions yet on what it is doing for autumn. The chain already stocks own label tools and a company spokeswoman says there are no plans in the short term to go further than that. CWS product manager Wayne Kelly claims the Co-op's retail sales are between £20m and £25m a year, but this figure does include garden furniture. It has around 500 lines ranging from weedkillers to petrol mowers in 300 stores. One of its bestsellers is household plant compost in small bags produced by Westland, which customers don't mind mixing with the weekly shop. Kelly says: "The consumer friendly packaging has helped to increase sales by 50%. Another high volume selling line is the grow bag at 99p each." Another company committed to improving sales in the grocery sector is pbi Home & Garden. Now part of Bayer, its recent marketing and sales recruitment has been deliberately targeted at people with a multiple retailing and consumer products background. Its Baby Bio products are represented in all of the multiples but pbi's md John Wilson says current penetration for the sector as a whole remains stubbornly low. "The multiples' high street position is excellent and consumer footfall enormous, but only one garden owner in two shopping the grocery multiples buys a garden chemical or fertiliser product of any brand. Presentation is critical and we need more opportunity to put products in front of customers at the right time of the season," he says. "A 50% increase in total UK sales across all brands would only represent an extra £100m at retail and it still wouldn't be hitting every gardener's shopping basket at the checkout." Helping pbi to promote its range has been its £3m seasonal marketing package, and the company's recent acquisition of the Phostrogen brand from Scotts which has added more products to the menu. The WD-40 Company is hoping to shake off its car only image by placing more emphasis on its many functions around the garden and home. UK marketing manager Peter McCullough says: "Traditionally WD-40 has been stocked in the automotive section, yet increasingly people are looking for it in the gardening and home cleaning sections." Research shows consumers put usage of WD-40 for gardening in third place out of 11 categories, behind the automotive category which has fallen to second place behind home maintenance and DIY. Latest products include its 3-in-One drip oil can with a telescopic spout to reach hard to get at places, and a WD-40 cleaning cloth (rsp 99p-£1.29 for a three pack) specially designed for grocery retail. The Sellotape Company is increasing its move into the sector. Renowned for its adhesive tapes, its range includes garden specific lines such as water resistant garden and outdoor elephant tape designed to withstand the elements, retailing from £2.99. New to the range are garden ties. A pack of six individual 300mm long ties has an rsp of £3.99. Jeyes is hoping to make inroads into grocery with a line up of cleaners specifically designed for the garden. Category manager Mike Reid says: "Gardening products get such little focus. There are more possibilities opening up but it's just a bit slow happening." Jeyes reduced odour cleaning fluid is already available in multiples. Its latest product, a wooden decking cleaner, capitalises on the trendy decking effect extolled on TV. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}