Facebook

Rise of the Plantfluencer: Bringing the Great Outdoors Home

The urban jungle trend has been around for some years now, but the confinement due to the recent pandemic has brought people closer to their leafy friends than ever. To help interior and lifestyle brands find their green fingers: A brief introduction to the plantfluencer phenomenon and how they’re bringing the great outdoors home.

In times of social distancing and home confinement, the balcony has taken centre stage. We all remember the viral videos of Italian and Spanish neighbours joining voices on the few square metres of outdoor space they were allowed to frequent during the toughest phase of the Covid-19 related lockdown. Whether one has a garden, terrace, balcony or just a simple window: People have started bringing the outdoors indoors, swapping their social life for a life with plants.

Trends come and go, but some really grow on us. So we reached out to Lina Juvens, researcher with the Belgian trend research and marketing agency Trendwolves, to find out just how relevant the urban jungle trend is. Who are the plantfluencers and how can interior and lifestyle brands benefit from engaging with them?

Urban Jungle Trend

“The urban jungle trend has been around for a while and has its roots in the city where people living in small spaces were looking for quiet and peaceful retreats. They ended up creating those spaces in their own homes”, explains Lina

Back in 2017, The New York Times writes, almost a quarter of the American houseplant shoppers were between 18 and 34 years old. “Part of this millennial indoor generation that is home in vibrant but often polluted cities, was also attracted by the air-purifying qualities of plants, following the advice of a NASA report”, Lina adds. The space agency actually conducted its ‘Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement’ study in 1989, but the green trend picked up and dusted it off decades later to find out about the clean air benefits of the Peace lily and the Florist’s chrysanthemum.

Plantfluencer Phenomenon

One can trace back the revival of the houseplant to around 2014, when social media channel Instagram had truly taken off as a hub for millennial home décor inspiration. Friends Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff  are some of today’s biggest plantfluencers. Their @urbanjungleblog started as a monthly green thumb section on their interior website in September 2013, but grew out to be a true Urban Jungle Bloggers™ community with over a million followers, its own trending #urbanjunglebloggers and selling books like Plant Tribe: Living Happily Ever After With Plants at Urban Outfitters.

The plant boutique The Sill is just as successful. Funded by a 12,000 dollar Kickstarter campaign, Eliza Blank started her current global plant brand from her New York apartment as an online concept in 2012, The New York Times writes. Now, it offers online workshops, hosts other community events such as cocktail parties, sells all sorts of trendy plant gear, totes and tees included.

Other plant influencers followed similar paths. Darryl Cheng from Toronto, Canada is the green creative mastermind behind @houseplantjournal and the author of The New Plant Parent. Alana Langan and Jacqui Vidal launched their botanical wares studio Ivy Muse in Australia back in 2014 which commits to, as they write on their website, ‘enhancing wellbeing through the use of plants’. One can do so in style, as they too released a book titled Plant Style. Last but not least, Londoner Emma Sibley had a passion for gardening, but no green space in the UK capital and so started her London Terrariums in 2014. The renaissance of houseplants gave her startup the perfect boost and her Little Book of House Plants and Other Greenery has become a guide to many.

A Plant Lifestyle

Compared to 2016, in 2019 US house plant sales had increased by 50 percent according to the National Gardening Association. The plantfluencer phenomenon was born, bringing the plant lifestyle to the millennial masses who choose to become ‘plant parents’ to their ‘plant babies’. Not only do they hord houseplants and book deals, but totes, tees, and home interior accessory collections too. 

The urban jungle trend brings a new boho vibe to home décor and anything that matches green leaves goes: tapestry, printed textiles, vases, pottery, macramé hangers, and wicker chairs. Interior design brands expand their annual outdoor furniture collections with accessories that cater to the plant lifestyle, like Yves Klein Blue and millennial pink planters (in fact, artist Lotte van Baalen founded @plantsonpink, a whole account dedicated to leafy green and millennial pink combos from around the world), brass watering cans and brilliant plant stands and shelves that bring the plant #shelfie to new heights – literally. It is safe to say that these leafy friends have overshadowed the previous green lover of the gram: the avocado brunch.

Green Escape

“However, where the trend was initially popular with interior design lovers, the current Covid-19 crisis has definitely led to a broader audience. Most people have been forced to spend more time at home which makes us more aware of our living space. We have the urge to make that space more comfortable and inviting and the home has become a place to escape the everyday craziness and insecurity more than ever”, says Lina.

In Belgium, where citizens could hardly leave the house if not for essentials like grocery shopping, the government went as far as to open garden centres alongside supermarkets. Several online plant retailers have seen the pandemic cause a sales boom, and local businesses say they ramped up their deliveries.

Plant Pandemic

In the US, in a matter of two days back in March, online sales jumped 25 percent, as ABC News reported. Online grocery shopping was the main driver, but a rise in sales of homeware contributed to the increase too. Unfortunately, a global brand like The Sill that was born online and noted a 5 million dollar revenue in 2018 with 70 percent of its sales coming from online purchases, is not the norm. “Garden centres and furniture designers may have been the categories that were the least prepared for a near-total switch to e-commerce, but these recent developments might just be the push they needed for digital innovation and realising this growth potential”, Lina says. We already touched on the urgency of digitalisation in the fashion industry in a previous article, but it is clear that other categories like home interior would benefit from such innovative solutions too.

Whether the pandemic will have a lasting impact on people’s growing love for houseplants is but the question. “Big trends are born from big events, like what happened with the important American trends post 9/11. Now, we will speak of the post Covid-19 trends in the consumer world. However, it is too early to say what those exact shifts will be”, Lina concludes. “Will this crisis be long and deep enough to sustainably integrate these new habits? Or will we just return to our old ones?” As we previously wrote in our DNA of Trends article: Brands need to keep their finger on the pulse of societal developments in order to evolve. Read more about the world of trends and how to implement change here.

 

Photo credits: Unsplash.

Wided is the Lifestyle Researcher for the Belgian and Dutch markets at VOCAST. She’s a Belgian editor and author with a background in journalism. In London, she established a career in digital marketing for fashion and interior design brands. When she’s not working or studying for her Master’s, you’ll find her in front of a canvas, paint brushes in hand.

 

 

Embracing the green lifestyle, our researchers have handpicked plantfluencers, experts and media with green fingers as well as a passion for sustainable living for seasonal home interior lists in Denmark, France, Germany, The US, The UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden.

Find them in our database and ready to use for your press send-outs.

 

SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Get free knowledge on how to optimize your B2B marketing & new product releases.

RELATED POSTS

The Power of Podcasting

The Power of Podcasting

Podcasts are not a new format in 2020. Nevertheless, it is a marketing element with many, and still untapped, possibilities. VOCAST has created a Podcast list for Fashion and Home/Interior, for each market to help our brands navigate in the podcasting sphere.   ...

Italy: Why and how to conquer the lifestyle market

Italy: Why and how to conquer the lifestyle market

VOCAST is launching Italian curated lists for the lifestyle market. With over 67.000 fashion brands (1) and over 30.000 interior design companies (2), not to mention world prestigious wool, silk, lace and leather manufacturers, Italy represents one of the largest...

2020: The Birth of Digital Fashion Weeks

2020: The Birth of Digital Fashion Weeks

When the fashion industry looks back at 2020 in 5, 10, or 20 years, what will they think of?  Will it be the overnight decrease in sales, the closing, and opening of stores, the despair amongst traditional media, or the endless new digital possibilities? Will we think...