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Behind the Work → Haws

When it shines, it pours

Our work ends in design. But it starts in research, insight and strategy.

Research & Insight

Activities: Desk research, product immersion, digital audit, vendor interviews, customer interviews

Haws has been the big name in watering cans since 1886. Every watering can is still produced manually with century-old machinery and the sum of 200+ elements of assembly. No two cans are identical.

The market has evolved in recent years. A new generation of urban consumers, fanatical about indoor plants – and sharing pictures of their indoor plants – have overtaken the traditional, gardening enthusiast. And Haws’ design and build quality had introduced them to a wave of influencers that now champion the brand online.

This new audience was much more likely to buy via digital channels, eschewing bricks & mortar retailers and viewing a watering can as a lifestyle purchase, not a functional tool. Haws maintains a strong retail distribution network but its digital presence was antiquated and ineffective. Their products were being copied, sold via third parties without permission and, as a result, their premium place in the market was heavily compromised.

The products were so evergreen that consumers didn’t need to return.


Haws’ competition could vouch for similar selling points: Heritage, durability and ‘smart’ design. But none could match Haws’ workmanship, quality or quintessentially English brand story.

A review of purchase behaviour uncovered our main challenge: A ‘regular’ customer may buy 2 or 3 items in a lifetime. The products were so evergreen that consumers didn’t need to return to buy another. We had to conceive of ways to increase basket value, give people a reason to order again and drive advocacy should no further sale be possible.

Few people buy watering cans to own a watering can; they buy a can to care for their plants, with a sprinkling of aspiration (‘I’m the kind of person that buys a top-of-the-range watering can’) or generosity (it’s a prime, all-weather gift). It was vital that copy & imagery associated the cans with a lifestyle and seasonality.

We needed to position Haws as the premium but practical option, connecting the look that influencers swooned over with the engineering prowess that made their cans the gardener’s favourite. We didn’t need to alienate the current audience to cater to the next market.

Since launch, the site set new e-commerce records month on month.

To increase basket value, the site recommends accessories (e.g. misters) alongside watering cans. To drive return, each watering can highlights a different purpose and practicality – as they are designed specifically for – to support the idea of a viable and necessarily broad range.

We created a specific user journey for gifting for use at key points in the calendar (like Christmas) and incorporated a range of agile, ‘always-on’ modules to promote each seasonal offer, noting heritage and craft wherever possible. Collection pages aid discovery and provide a tool to present content in reactive, relevant ways ongoing, untied to their static category.

Based on consumer behaviour, it was clear that the can’s finish was a determining factor in both search and purchase journeys – relating to either a colour or a material, so this became the prime filtering option.

Since launch, the site set new e-commerce records month on month.

Haws watering cans take pride of place in a home or garden. Their site extends that sense of appreciation from the physical to the digital world.

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