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PMA offers fresh look on floral

Flowers are discretionary goods, and the floral market is highly affected by the state of the economy, changes in production, retail competition, consumer demographics and trends, and more.

Produce Marketing Association is committed to helping the supermarket floral industry flourish. So as a go-to resource for members of the mass-market floral community, we took a fresh look at where floral is going. Below are some highlights from our recent research, and some flower food for thought.

Retail trends.

Becky Roberts 140227 4477 webBecky RobertsPMA’s “2019 Consumer Trends Impacting the Floral Industry” research indicates that the customer experience, not the channel, is driving consumer loyalty. Regardless of how consumers buy, a winning strategy for mass-market retailers is to take a customer-first approach where the experience is the primary focus.

Technology will play an increasingly stronger part in the customer experience and sales. Digital marketing, content, data, and AI-powered analytics are fusing with commerce to provide customers with a personalized experience.

According to the 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey from Boston Retail Partners, 55 percent of retailers plan to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) for personalized customer service within three years to better the customer experience.

What’s next then? Can you envision being ready with a customer’s favorite flower in their favorite color as they enter your commerce site? If you think it will never happen, think again. That’s the advice Kevin Coupe gave buyers, produce suppliers and business solution providers at PMA’s Fresh Connections: Retail event in Philadelphia last month when discussing the ever-increasing role of technology in retail.

Coupe, who is an author, video producer, and Content Guy for MorningNewsBeat.com, says technology and making use of data are critical for retailers to differentiate, transcend the ordinary, and create lifetime customer value. We look forward to hearing Coupe’s retail insights for the floral community at PMA Fresh Connections: Floral Miami on May 16.

Consumer trends.

The merry month of May is ripe with opportunities to sell flowers, from the predictable boon of Mother’s Day to Cinco de Mayo, Teacher Appreciation Week, spring proms, recitals, and early graduation parties.   If our industry wants to increase floral sales and make floral part of everyday life; however, we need to follow the character Ross Geller’s advice from “Friends” and PIVOT! To get consumers to think and act differently, we must think and act differently too.

Perhaps we can take a cue from local farms that sell flower subscriptions. Imagine instead of selling just one bouquet for Mother’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Day, you could sell a weekly or monthly subscription?

If you haven’t already, get the event calendar for your local district and consider promotions tailored to school events. I know one senior prom goer last year who stuck a $70 bouquet from the florist in a vase and opted instead to carry a $15 bouquet from her local retailer because the loose arrangement and colors better suited the look she had in mind.

Generation Z will be the largest consumer group by 2020, making up 40 percent of consumers in the United States, according to a Fast Company study. Retail strategies need to include wants, needs, and habits of this demographic which grew up in a digital age, is influenced by social media, and shops through social channels.

A March RetailWire article posed the question “Can Instagrammable moments turn into immediate direct sales?” In response, members of PMA’s Fresh Ideas: Produce and Floral Marketing Professionals LinkedIn group mused about whether our industry can capitalize on Instagram’s new Checkout service that will allow users to directly buy items they find on the app. We’ve got ambassadors and influencers everywhere. Let’s use them!

For example, stories abound about Millennials becoming “plant parents,” and Instagram is full of inspiration that includes images of fresh-cut flowers and plants as the crowing jewel of home décor, wedding, and couple #goals posts. Pinterest includes posts on how to make mindfulness part of everyday life — and flowers are featured prominently as an antidote to stress and source of happiness.

Apartment Therapy even featured New Year’s resolution articles about small, simple ways to turn black thumbs green and a self-help calendar of sorts titled The January Cure included a to-do list for becoming more organized, focused and mindful that included a weekly “treat yourself to flowers” call to action.

PMA will take a deeper dive into consumer, retail and economic trends at Fresh Connections: Floral Miami on May 15-16 and with a different take in Anaheim on June 6.

PMA members can also join the conversation in our Focus on Floral Facebook Community. Additional resources are available at pma.com, including research and floral sales benchmark surveys.