There is a large market in the UK for good quality garden buildings. This is due to small houses, a pronounced and prolonged lack of new homes and the perennial popularity of home improvement projects. The pressures of insufficient affordable property of the right size, the motivation to increase the value of their current property, and an assortment of carefully considered lifestyle and aspirational motives are all factors that encourage homeowners to invest in a garden office or other garden building.
Potential customers for bespoke or purpose-designed, insulated garden offices fall into three distinct groups. Within these groups are subsets or ‘tribes’ who use their buildings in unique and different ways. Each tribe wants a particular type of garden building to suit their needs.
Classifying people is always a very general way of attempting to understand a market, but these five tribes are, from our research, the people who want to buy well designed, well made garden buildings.
Garden Office As Long Term Investment
Group One: Consumers who buy a garden office building as long-term economic investment and top-quality space solution. These consumers are families who are established in their homes, with no intention of moving who want to buy a garden office or similar as both an economic long-term investment and a top-quality space-solution.
Tribe A. Financially stable families with mortgages
These are young (between 30 and 44 years old) financially stable commuter families with school age children. Their employment is in managerial and professional occupations, usually with both adults working. They live in relatively large houses that are mortgaged rather than owned outright. These people are financially aware, have savings plans and invest in stocks and shares. The digital age is key to these households, with the internet used to plan every aspect of their lives. Their interest in a garden office or garden room is multi-purpose, a detached space for changing family needs.
Tribe B. Older Families in Larger Houses
People aged 40 to 59, living in established and suburban neighbourhoods. These households are a mix of couples with older children, including some home-based students, empty nesters, and some retired people. Homes are typically semi-detached. Family incomes are high. Mortgages have been paid off or greatly reduced and they value their homes as significant financial assets, even though they might not be always be in the most expensive areas of Britain.
Older families see a garden office as either a necessary for work, or for leisure interests when the house doesn’t have enough room for the diverse interests of a large family. Their garden building could even be used as an extra bedroom for older children / home-based students.
Garden Office as a Necessity
Group Two: Consumers who see a garden office as a necessity for work and/or leisure purposes. They invest to improve their lifestyle.
Tribe C. Occasional Commuters
Occasional Commuters are generally professionals who work in senior managerial positions or are self-employed. A higher-than-average proportion of these people work from home at least part of the week. There are fewer children and more retired people found in this tribe.
Occasional commuter’s houses are spacious and mostly detached,and are more likely to be owned outright than mortgaged. Their homes are large enough to include a home office but a purpose built, detached garden office or leisure building supports a healthy work-life balance and is a well deserved reward for the remaining years of their commuting career. An aesthetically pleasing, high-quality garden building makes enough difference to encourage some of these commuters to switch permanently to working from home.
Tribe D. Mature Couples in Smaller Homes with Bigger Gardens
This type of household includes people aged between 45 and 74 who are either The self-employed, small business owners or retired from middle management and supervisory roles. Their children, if they have any, have moved out. These couples live in the well established areas of more remote towns and villages and tend to own their properties outright.
Generally they want a multi-purpose garden building that can be used for accommodating the changing needs, wishes and interests. An extra room in their garden takes the pressure of their small house. It provides a work space until retirement and then an adaptable extra living space in their much loved garden.
Garden Room as Pure Luxury
Group Three: These consumers are individuals and families who see adding a garden room as a pure luxury that completes their garden. How they will use their building is secondary to installing it to complete the garden design.
Tribe E. Mature Professionals and Managers in Large Homes
These consumers live in high status suburban and semi-rural neighbourhoods, as well as the affluent parts of smaller towns and villages throughout the UK. They are highly qualified professionals and senior executives, some self-employed, in their 40s and 50s.
These consumers are not buying their garden building as a necessity. They have probably already extended their home as much as they can and possibly have a second home. A garden building for this tribe is added purely to liven up their garden design and make creative use of their outdoor space.
This article is based on research done for us by Lancaster University Management School MSc students.