3 Instagram-Worthy Trends Driving Plant & Other Live Goods Sales

3 Instagram-Worthy Trends Driving Plant & Other Live Goods Sales

Mixed in among posts about make-up and slime is a social media stalwart: plants. While they may not have the most followers, plants probably haven’t seen this much attention since the Knights who say Ni requested that second shrubbery. More and more, consumers have taken to showing off their plant collections on Instagram and other platforms, inspiring their followers and spurring viral trends. Not only is social media providing indirect marketing for the $10.7 billion dollar live goods market, but it’s showcasing what consumers like and how they’re using their plants.

Check out a few of the key live goods trends expected to propel the market through 2022.

1. Food Gardening

While uploading a social media snap of your dinner may incite eyerolling, some consumers are sharing not just a meal but the fruits of their labor – literally. More consumers are growing their own food for all the internet to see, with tech-savvy millennials in particular displaying their gardens on online platforms. While filter-friendly photos are a pleasant byproduct of home-grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs, they’re by no means the only (or even main) reason more people have taken to cultivating their own food. Consumers are mainly growing more edible plants in order to:

  • cut down on grocery bills
  • derive enjoyment from growing their own food
  • donate food to worthy causes, like shelters
  • support the environment, by creating gardens that are pollinator-friendly
  • grow food more organically, cutting back on pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs

2. Cacti & Succulents

Cacti and succulents are unique, photogenic, and low-maintenance – making them popular indoor/outdoor greenery options for busy consumers. These live goods can be found everywhere, from miniature indoor desk displays to large outdoor xeriscapes. Consumers and retailers alike are increasingly creative in displaying these plants, often grouping different complementary species together, or growing/replanting them in attractive, non-standard containers.

However, there is one unexpected side effect to the rising popularity of these plants: the growing black market for cacti. Cacti are extremely popular with consumers, but they are also slow to grow and native to North and South America. As a result, they are very valuable. Cacti are often stolen from protected areas like national parks and sold on the black market, often fetching prices as high as $100 per foot. To combat this, some hard-hit areas like Saguaro National Park have taken to microchipping the cactus trunks to thwart would-be thieves.

3. New Gardening Design Trends

Cacti and succulents are wildly popular, but they’re not the only live goods trends cropping up on social media. Instagram is also a showcase for such garden design trends as:

  • Wabi-Sabi: Wabi-sabi gardening – a popular Japanese aesthetic that considers beauty imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete – favors simple but richly biodiverse landscapes with asymmetrical designs, old products repurposed for new use, and a variety of wild plant species. For some iterations of these spaces, consumers are repurposing old wooden containers as planters and allowing wild foliage to artfully overrun their yards.
  • Minimalism: Minimalism is another major current indoor and outdoor aesthetic trend that incorporates spare design elements with an abundance of sharp edges, clean surfaces, and decluttered spaces, sometimes punctuated with small areas of green and select other curated colors. Outdoor minimalism is especially prevalent in drought-prone areas that have transitioned from lawns to water conserving xeriscapes, which often intermix cacti and succulents with aggregate-based accent beds.
  • Fairy Gardens: Fairy gardens are small in scale but big on creativity. These fantastical miniature gardens often feature small whimsical accessories and live goods, and are ideal for social media sharing, as photography techniques can often lend the displays additional realism. Fairy gardens can range in complexity, encompassing small decorative houses nestled amongst the foliage or more elaborate plant and figurine displays.
  • Moon Gardens: With more consumers spending leisure time outdoors, they increasingly want to be able to enjoy their spaces at night. While outdoor lighting and fire pits can help make a patio more useable in the dark, moon gardens are another potential solution. Moon gardens are designed to be visible both during the day and at night without substantial lighting, often incorporating photogenic white or brightly colored plants, night blooming flowers, and fragrant plants.

For More Information

These and other trends are expected to continue open up sales opportunities for live goods. To learn more about the market for live goods check out The Freedonia Group’s recent industry study, Live Goods: Plants, Trees, and Shrubbery, which offers: 

  • historical data and forecasts
  • US sales of live goods by product, end-user, and region
  • analysis of growth opportunities and the factors affecting sales
  • profiles of retailers and analysis of the retail market
  • competitive analysis of leading growers
  • consumer survey data and major consumer trends


    About the Author:

    Dan Debelius is an Industry Analyst at The Freedonia Group, where he writes industry studies on the consumer and commercial goods market.

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