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SAF’s Generations of Flowers Study Reveals Opportunities to Sell More Flowers to Key Age Groups

SAF PR FundSAF’s Generations of Flowers Study explores people’s perceptions of flowers, plants and florists. While the generational research findings are extensive, there are several key findings important for florists to understand and act upon more intensely:

  • Flowers’ sensory and emotional qualities such as color, fragrance and how they make you feel are most valued by consumers of all ages.
  • “Just because” gifts continue to be important, yet what actually constitutes a gift is changing – there are fewer “rules” to follow. For instance, homemade gifts and experiential gifts, such as a day off from cooking, are becoming more and more common.
  • Retail venues that provide convenience and low-price options are most popular, especially with younger generations.
  • Florists are respected and are held to higher standards than other retail outlets.
  • Most consumers prefer to purchase flowers in person, yet many use the Internet to find phone numbers and product choices.
  • The top two barriers to flower purchases cited: short lifespan of flowers and expense/too much of a luxury.

Biggest motivator for consumers to shop at local florists more often:

  • Special offers
  • Free delivery
  • Arrangements in range of prices
  • Despite economic conditions, more consumers indicate they will purchase flowers as gifts more frequently than in previous years.

Here are ideas to help you capitalize on the general findings followed by generation-specific information and ideas. Customize these to work best for your shop.

  • Color of the Month: Knowing that color adds to the impact of a floral gift, each month or even each week, showcase a signature arrangement highlighting a different color scheme. One idea is to use birthday gem stone colors to promote flowers for the month. For example, the January birthstone is garnet, so a featured arrangement could be monochromatic red. Or let a lucky customer choose the color by spinning a big wheel in the shop, such as a roulette wheel, a dartboard or a Twister board. Change your window displays to match the Color of the Month. Offer a special discount for items in that color. Give walk-in customers wearing the Color of the Month a special discount. Encourage staff to wear the Color of the Month, too.
  • “Feel Special” Special: Everyone knows someone who needs a pick-me-up. So, create a specialized “Just Because” flower arrangement or dish garden. Feature it on your Web site home page or in an e-mail. Send one to a news reporter or friend who is under the weather and even display one on your counter. Invite recipients of the bouquet to visit your Web site to share a comment on how receiving the flowers made them feel.
  • Kindness Contest: Conduct a Random Acts of Kindness contest, where you send flowers to members of the community who are caught doing something good! Start by asking your customers, and you can even let the news media know you are looking for do-gooders. Maybe they will even sponsor the contest. Have fun with this, and share what you learn about the community on your Web site.
  • Invent Catchy Names: Get creative naming arrangements. Here are a few to inspire you:
At Least You Have a Job: Misty blues and other cool hues relax friends and family members who are overworked and underpaid in stressful workplaces.

I Hate Mondays: A vibrant arrangement of all super bright colors will make your loved one jump for joy.

You Took Out the Recycling: An all green organic bouquet thanks that special someone for doing his or her chores.

iPhone Addicts Anonymous: For that person who just can’t put down their PDA. Give them something that really sends a message. (Super cool if you can create something using floral-foam shaped like an iPhone.)

Your Name Here: Just as sandwich shops name sandwiches after their regulars, ask your top customers if you can name a bouquet after them and put it up on the board behind the counter with a description of the bouquet and its namesake.
  • Create a Holiday: Ask customers to create their own holiday and have them vote on it. Then create a bouquet to honor that. Use your Facebook page to ask for nominations and post it on your Web site.
  • It’s The Little Things that Count: Use your Facebook page or Web site to ask folks to tell you something little that someone did for them that made a big difference. Deliver a bud vase to the person who did the special deed, and have your driver snap a photo of the delivery for posting on your Web site and Facebook page.
  • Use Your Color Monitor: Because consumers use the Web for research before buying, ensure your Web site showcases a wide variety of colorful arrangements and prices, and prominently displays your convenient ordering options, social media information (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and any specials for buying in-store.
  • Sense of Sound: Play music in your shop that feature flowers in the lyrics. Or just play the flower songs on Moody Blues Mondays, Beats ‘n Buds Wednesdays or Rockin’ Fridays. Some suggestions for your iPod playlist: 

Bed of Roses by Bon Jovi

Edelweiss by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer

Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison

Fill Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations

For The Roses by Joni Mitchell

Kiss from a Rose by Seal

Morning Glory by Oasis

Orange Blossom Special by Johnny Cash

Roses by Mary J. Blige

Scarlet Begonias by Grateful Dead

Tiptoe Through The Tulips - Tiny Tim

Where Have All the Flowers Gone by Pete Seeger

Yellow Rose of Texas

You Don't Bring Me Flowers by Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond

  • Any Season. Any Reason: Create an “any season, any reason” promotion, where you frequently promote a different “just because” opportunity to send flowers or a plant – such as a personal milestone like losing 10 pounds or thanks for helping with the school event! Get the word out through a simple in-store display, an online calendar, or email customers each week. You also might align with another retail partner, such as a restaurant or coffee shop, to promote the “reason of the day.”
  • Tattoo Tuesdays: Partner with a local tattoo parlor (multi-generational – and news getting) to offer a “Fresh Ink” special of a rose or flower tattoo with a bouquet.
  • Makeover Magnet: Partner with the local paper’s or city magazine’s home sections to show readers how to use flowers and plants to brighten up any room. Show before and after pictures on your Web site and blog. Be sure to talk about the results of the Home Ecology of Flowers Study.
  • Be a News Source: Make sure your shop is top-of-mind among consumers by staying in the media spotlight. Along with reaching out to local newspapers and TV news stations, send press releases and submit articles to groups with newsletters — chambers of commerce, rotary clubs, garden or book clubs, realtors, home owners’ associations, apartments, local trade associations. For content, use SAF’s consumer Web site, www.aboutflowers.com and SAF’s customizable press releases. You’ll establish yourself as the local expert on flowers, and you’ll benefit from publicity.
  • Speak Up: When submitting articles and press releases to groups with newsletters, point out that you are available to give brief presentations. For your program, give a design demonstration and talk about flower care and the emotional benefits of flowers. Hand out a single flower to each audience member as well as a flier on the benefits of flowers. Download and customize fliers on the Power of Giving Flowers Flowers, Home Ecology of Flowers Study, Flower Therapy, Flowers in the Workplace or the Floral Signature Quiz. The next time audience members think of flowers, they’ll think of you.
  • Advertise: Just add your shop information to SAF’s ready-to-go advertisements — print ads and radio commercial scripts — or build your own using high-resolution floral photography. Advertise in local newspapers, the weekly community gazettes and neighborhood newsletters. If the cost to advertise is too high, negotiate — offer to provide flowers for the news desk, lobby or next function.
  • Holiday Extension: The day after a holiday, remind customers it’s better late than never. Guilt can be quite the motivator for bigger purchases. E-mail customers, post on your Web site and Facebook page about “Get Out of the Doghouse on Feb. 15,” “Recognize Support Stuff — It’s Administrative Professionals Thursday” and “Mother’s Day Monday.”
  • Flower Therapy: Flower Therapy draws on the powerful impact of color and emotion to educate consumers how flowers in different color combinations can enhance or adjust feelings. Flower Therapy combines insight from Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and author of several books on color, with SAF's university research that shows the emotional benefits of flowers. Capitalize on Flower Therapy to peek the interest of customers. Check out Flower Therapy advice and materials.
  • Energize Your Staff: An energized salesperson who has something interesting to say about a product sells more and keeps customers coming back. So share what you know about flowers with your sales staff. Make sure they know the varietal names of the blooms they're selling, and maybe even something special about them. (Do they know where it's grown? What's the traditional meaning associated with the flower?) Be sure your team knows about the research proving the health benefits of having flowers around and encourage them to talk about it with customers. Here are some tips to get staff excited:
  • Hang up a chalkboard or dry erase board in the shop and make it someone’s job to put a new flower fact up each day.

At weekly or monthly meetings, have Jeopardy-like trivia games involving varietal names and flower facts – give winners a gift certificate.

Add “my favorite flower” to each staff person’s profile on the Web site and/or on his or her nametag.

  • Girls’ Night In: During private workshops, show top customers how to make an easy centerpiece. Charge a fee. Promote the availability of private workshops as a special treat for birthdays, reunions, just because the girls need some time together, or a special way to decorate their holiday dinner table. Build awareness through garden and book clubs, craft groups, Craigslist and local Dinner Done organizations.
  • Create “Surprise a Friend Day”: Because there are no rules when it comes to gifting, create your own fun holidays like “Surprise a friend day.” Schedule it well in advance, so you can promote the special day via statement stuffers, emails – even a press release to the local media. On the day, send flowers to news media with the release and information on how many friends in town will be surprised with flowers. This could be a great promotion to run during the slower summer months.
  • Store Off-Shoots: Because we always need to take convenience to the next level, look for other places for offshoot sales, venues where you can place a few affordable signature arrangements for sale. For example, is there a local coffee shop, ice cream parlor or wine store (for the perfect hostess gift) where you can promote your designs and connect with new customers? Perhaps wellness places such as gyms, day spas and yoga studios, the weekend farmers markets, or a lunchtime cart of flowers at a nearby food court.
  • Give a Lunchtime Lift: Visit a few local lunchtime hotspots, and create small vases for restaurant tables that customers can actually purchase in the restaurant or at your shop. Make them unique and affordable, and let customers know where they can find you in person and online.
  • Election Day Designs: As Election Day approaches, conduct a fun promotion to vote for the city’s favorite or signature flower design. Put pictures of three “candidates” online, and ask the city to vote – via press materials and communications to customers they can share with others. Encourage voting by letting the public know that winning arrangements will be donated to local charities on Election Day. Also send the bouquet to your local election winners!

Generational Findings

Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Click here for specific findings on baby boomers.

Born between 1946 and 1964, Boomers are heading into retirement and in general are satisfied with their life choices. It was this generation who displayed the most significant appreciation of flowers (primarily mixed flowers), so it should be the easiest to market to this group. But do it knowing they can be more demanding than the other generations. They have the highest expectations of florists and can view the cost of flowers as a purchase barrier. Interestingly, boomers are most likely to use the Internet to send flowers outside of their area.

Boomers continue to exude the core self-confidence that has defined their generation through the decades. Although the economic downturn has increased levels of anxiety about retirement, they are nevertheless proactive in seeking innovative solutions to dealing with age. They view their new stage of life as one of activity and fulfillment rather than idleness.

Gen X (1965-1980)

Click here for specific findings on Gen X.

Gen X are those people born between 1965 and 1980. They are the so-called “slacker generation” and are now parents and have families of their own. Family is indeed most important for this generation and as a result their financial situation can be challenging as they try to balance their needs and those of their family with future plans. In addition, this generation has a desire to be self-sufficient.

Gen Xers are tech-savvy consumers and are most likely to purchase flowers over the Internet, yet they also understand the pitfalls of technology. They are the most “time-starved” generation, often juggling career and family obligations, but they maintain a strong commitment to work-life balance in their lives. The pick-me-up flower message and home décor options make sense for this demographic. Make it easy and convenient.

Gen Y (1981-1994)

Click here for specific findings on Gen Y.

SAF’s Generations of Flowers Study revealed the most about Gen Y, the floral industry’s next age group of customers and the most challenging floral consumers. Therefore, in addition to the above promotional ideas, we have added some emphasis on relating to this younger generation.

Born in the years 1981-1994, this generation is just beginning their adult lives and facing lots of firsts: their first home, first job, and most importantly, first independent income. They are trying to find the right balance between spending for necessities and spending for entertainment. This generation is concerned not just with function and utility but also style. They are the tech generation, having grown up with the Internet and cable television, yet they remain excited by new forms of technology. They embrace traditional values and crafts but at the same time, want to put their own personal, modern twist on everything they do.

Gen Y’s floral attitudes and behaviors

Gen Y has yet to fully develop its appreciation for flowers. As an industry, we need to encourage this age group’s emotional appreciation by being relevant to their lives and offering opportunities to engage with flowers more frequently and meaningfully. Gen Y has not yet fully connected with the uplifting and personal attributes of flowers. With all the new competition for mindshare, the floral industry needs to use “their” media to reach them in ways that resonate with this exciting audience.

Here are some promotions and marketing ideas any florist can employ to attract Gen Y as customers:

Join the Twitter Nation

Twitter is a social networking tool that allows users to communicate instant updates to thousands of followers at a time. Set up an account (it’s free at www.Twitter.com) and invite customers to “follow” you on Twitter. Topics to “tweet” about:

  • Daily specials such as, “If your name is ‘Jenny’, stop by the store for a free rose.”
  • Pictures of unique arrangements or a new variety
  • Birthday greetings
  • Holiday reminders
  • Quick flower care tips
  • Prompts: “If you’re invited to a dinner this weekend, stop by the shop to pick up some flowers for the host.” (Read the Gen Y specific findings on what makes them tick florally to help you come up with more messages that will resonate.)
  • Put your Twitter username on your business cards, letterhead and in e-mails, so more and more people can “follow” your shop.
Floral Facebook

If you haven’t already, start a Facebook page for your shop at www.Facebook.com. Use it to showcase:

  • New varieties you just got in – what’s hot
  • Funny things overheard in the design room
  • Wedding don’t
  • An order-now- only special for Facebook and/or Twitter followers.
  • Photos of designs
  • Photos of your shop
  • Photos on new flowers and plants
  • Hours of operation and delivery
  • The various ways to order from you
  • Walk-in specials (they like to purchase in person)
  • Flower and plant care tips
  • Staff
  • Upcoming events
  • Upcoming specials
  • Develop a portfolio of pictures from what you have in shop, and ask brides and party hosts to upload pictures of your flowers at their events.
  • Invite people to join as “fans,” and consider giving a discount or free delivery to your fans.
  • Expand your network by joining or starting a Facebook group of flower fans.

Expand your network by joining and fanning professional floral industry Facebook groups.

Expand your network by becoming friends and fans of other local businesses as well as groups with Gen Y memberships:

  • Wedding vendors
  • B2B clients
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Colleges and universities
  • Alumni groups
  • Young professionals organizations
  • Adult recreational sports leagues
Courtship Connectivity

Gen Y is of the age of budding love and romance, and may soon take the plunge down the aisle. So, connect your shop and your flowers to courtship and bridal retailers.

  • Offer “second-date specials,” reasonably priced, coolly designed arrangements created to get a second date.
  • Reach out to Gen Y late night to get your name out. Sell single stems in bars and clubs, with your card attached.
  • Provide bouquets of different colors, shapes and sizes to local bridal salons for future brides to “try on” with their dresses.
  • Host eco bride nights with local growers, recycled cards/linens makers, organic food companies, hybrid limos
  • Ask brides and party hosts to upload pictures of your flowers at their events to your Web site and Facebook page.
Hybrid Occasions

Gen Y is unconventional, so create and promote original reasons to give flowers.

  • Pet birthdays
  • Christmakus
  • The anniversary of becoming roommates
  • Send flowers to mom on their own birthday
Give the Best Gift

Gen Y’s parents have it all. Remind Gen Y that flowers are the perfect gift to send parents and grandparents for birthdays and other special occasions, or just because.

House Party

Research shows that Gen Y uses flowers as home decor to impress guests.

  • Provide colorful, affordable, stylish arrangements/styles that work in apartments and small living spaces.
  • Offer a discount on the flowers for a Gen Y house party, in exchange for the hosts to upload pictures of the flowers for your Web site and social networking sites.
  • If their friends upload a picture, offer them a discount on an upcoming order.
  • Gen Y likes to give host gifts. Promote low-cost monobotanical options.
Gen Y Design

This generation is all about individuality and customization, so do what you can to offer those services in ways Yers can relate to.

  • Gen Yers indicated they prefer single type flower bouquets (i.e., all lilies, roses, tulips, daisies or orchids) over mixed flowers, so feature monobotanical designs on your Web site, social media sites, and in e-mails to this group of consumers.
  • Add a “build your arrangement” section, where buyers can click on a type of container and types and quantities of flowers to pick the ingredients for their own arrangement. A customer service rep or phone number can be provided for those who prefer to speak to someone in person.
  • Host classes to teach brides and their bridesmaids how to make their own bouquets.
  • Recognize Random Acts of Kindness
  • Because this age group has altruistic ideals, start a movement whereby people email you pictures and stories of people who deserve a reward for doing something good. Each week, give flowers as a reward, and tell the story on your Web site, Facebook and Twitter.
Be Part of the Bunch

This active generation is always on the move — getting involved, playing sports, engaging in group activities. Look for opportunities to sponsor a kickball team, host a Facebook meet-up, and provide flowers for the registration table or as prizes for a local 10K race or volleyball tournament.

Pitch In

Gen Y is recognized for helping others and making a difference. Find a local non-profit, and consider donating plants to a neighborhood clean-up effort or providing flowers for a soup kitchen or other youth-oriented volunteer activity in your community. For information or ideas, contact your local branch of organizations such as Americorps, City Year or even the YMCA.

Yelp For Help

Online mobile applications such as YELP and Kaboodle offer advice and reviews of what’s happening around town. Encourage your satisfied customers to add a review to enhance your local profile. Visit www.yelp.com and www.kaboodle.com.


Keywords: florist public relations, marketing, talking points