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New PMA research helps floral businesses seize the future

A steep decline in traditional floral retailing is presenting opportunities for mass-market retailers to more aggressively move into the floral sales space. So how and where should the mass-market retail floral supply chain focus their efforts to seize that opportunity? New research from the Produce Marketing Association reveals emerging short-term trends and their implications to help the industry gain perspective and prepare for the future.

The report, titled “Glimpse of the Future of Floral,” documents a number of trends including changes in floral retailers, consumer demographics and preferences, and marketing tactics. These trends parallel seismic shifts in the sourcing, harvesting and transporting of floral products. Technology also adds to this picture, fueling industry advancements from planting and monitoring growth of floral crops to paying for and transporting products to market.

This report was developed in response to requests from our floral members, after the association recently released a study that identified global fresh produce trends. The report goes beyond simply identifying trends to also examining their business implications to help the supply chain harness learnings and grow business.  

“This type of research arms our industry with floral-specific knowledge that can really help companies evaluate their business plans and make smart choices for the future,” said Debbie Zoellick, senior sourcing manager — global floral at Walmart, and member of PMA’s Floral Council. “In fact, the report’s findings demonstrate exactly why PMA’s Floral Council identified developing floral-specific trends research among our top three priorities — to better understand our businesses so we can grow our businesses.”

Zoellick noted that the Floral Council is also working on a project that will bring important category benchmarking data to the industry for the first time. The Floral Coding Initiative will standardize identification of basic categories of floral products, allowing checkout scan data to be collected and analyzed. “Just imagine what we can do with Nielsen or IRI data for floral,” she said.

Increasing competition stands out among the findings. Transportation, land, and labor — our industry’s fight for resources will only heighten in the next few years. For example, demand for legalized marijuana is expected to increase demand for and drive up land prices in the United States, especially when California lifts cultivation caps by 2023.

The report also finds strong opportunities to grow demand. Millennials should be a key target for floral marketing, since this generation will make up 34 percent of the global population by 2020. Making flowers and plants contemporary and affordable will be important to reaching these consumers. Millennials are inclined to DIY projects and are immensely influenced by visual social media platforms such as Instagram, a match for visually rich floral.

While data integration, collection and warehousing techniques to provide reliable point-of-sale information for floral is nonexistent, that’s about to change too. PMA’s Floral Coding Initiative works to standardize coding and guide data entry to help retailers extract data through aggregators like Nielsen Perishables Group and IRI. In the coming years, this initiative will greatly aid the industry in better understanding the sales performance of key subcategories in floral.

The report contains something for each link in the mass-market retail floral supply chain. Our floral departments are making an increasing contribution to store and chain performance. The more data and analysis we can put behind growing the floral category, the more we can help make your challenges smaller and your successes bigger.

PMA members can download the floral report from the Floral Topics section of PMA.com at https://www.pma.com/topics/floral.

Becky Roberts is director of floral at Produce Marketing Association. She can be contacted at broberts@pma.com.