This is not news in the green industry. When you attend almost any green conference, meeting, flower show, or trade show, it’s pretty obvious we are an older crowd. Not across the board and without exception, mind you, but the vast majority of our industry is over 45, and there’s been talk for years about how to attract younger people to gardening as a passion and/or as a career.
There are ways to attract a younger demographic to your event — and it not only makes good business sense, it’s the right and wise thing to do.
7 Ways to Attract Younger People to Your Event
Millennials (born 1980 – 1994) and Gen Z (born 1995 – 2012) naturally have a different mindset and world view than Baby Boomers and Gen X. They’ve grown up with technology, come to age during turbulent political and economic times, and have had a front row seat to the effects of and focus on climate change. Want to see them at your event? Incorporate these tips!
- Ensure your event is technologically current. Event apps with digital floorplans, contactless check-in, live streaming, QR codes, digital photo booths, and more.
- Be clear on your “why.” Everyone wants to learn how to do something, of course, but younger generations are also passionate about why they might learn something. Will it make the world a better place, help to ease anxiety or depression, create positive change in the environment, make people happy? Younger generations are also more in tune to creating balance in their lives, so if they’re considering adding something to their lifestyle, it’s going to be something that really matters to them. Let them know what that is! (P.S. Also, ask them what matters to them.)
- Be open to new ideas. Yes, even the ones that seem silly or outrageous. Is there room for racial and political commentary within the garden industry, for example? Yes, there is, and there should be. You don’t have to understand it or agree with it, just be open to it. It’s how all new and important ideas develop. Remember, there was actually a time when square foot gardening, aeroponics, and vegetables in the front yard were considered new and possibly weird. Yep, let that sink in.
- Place emphasis on joining a movement rather than “networking” or being a part of an association. Younger people are passionate about their connection with and place in the world, and they see their work and even hobbies through a perspective of creativity, purpose, and greater good.
- Seek out younger speakers, authors, vendors, and influencers. They are out there. And they’re strong, innovative, exciting, and inspiring. They see things through a different lens, and that is to be celebrated rather than mocked or ignored. You’ll find them on Instagram more than you will Facebook, but when in doubt, ask around!
- Make sure your workshop/session topics include current topics of concern and passion. The old standby topics are great. They’re timeless and popular. But always include topics focusing on the climate, homesteading, gardening as it relates to health, how to garden for newbies, houseplants, and the environment. If you exclude these topics or simply offer one or two sessions, that’s an indicator that your event is not staying up to date and relevant.
- Walk the walk. Don’t simply give lip service to being green, be green and environmentally responsible. Look for ways to decrease or eliminate paper usage, trash, excess food/drink, and waste. Offer vegan and gluten-free options as well as locally grown and prepared food, and incorporate morning wellness into the itinerary (a.m. walking group, yoga session, meditation, juice bar).
Younger generations will not — will not — participate in an outdated, crusty, musty event, meeting, association, or conference. They will stay away or create their own version that resonates with them. If you put in the time to show up for them and create experiences that mean something to them, they will show up for you, breathing new and exciting life into your event or organization, and in turn, our entire industry.