The Challenge for the Royal Horticultural Society

11/09/2019 By Sally Mimnagh
Research problem

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), founded in 1804, has the vision to inspire, involve, inform and improve. These core objectives are seen throughout their range of exclusive products to sell in their garden stores and online shop.  These are being developed from the RHS archived botanical artwork - held in the Lindley Library.  The aims of the research were to ensure that the range was appealing to a broad audience and to understand which designs had the widest appeal.


To achieve this, two focus groups were conducted consisting of non-members who had visited an RHS Garden in the last 12 months and a second group of RHS members.

The discussions were centred around prototype images based on 14 potential new product designs. The designs presented to the groups were unique and unrivalled, allowing for respondents to give feedback on each piece of artwork, before giving a collective group decision on their favourite designs. Respondents were also tasked with imagining the ideal product that they thought would work well with their preferred design.


Despite an appetite for newer designs, there was still a strong desire (particularly from RHS members and older respondents) for traditional products that reflected the heritage of the RHS. This research was used to help inform which patterns would be preferred by potential shoppers, and what type of products they would be likely to buy if offered in these patterns. The RHS have used this research to design their new product range, fulfilling their objective of encouraging and improving the science, art and practice of horticulture in all its branches.


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