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Retail floral departments are high-margin businesses and help retailers connect with customers in emotional and sensual ways – beautiful, scented products that connect us to loved ones and friends. But before the mass-market floral industry can move forward tomorrow in a more meaningful way, it has to know where it is today.
A new proprietary industry benchmarking survey from Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) holds the keys. The research will be introduced at a workshop at PMA’s Fresh Summit Conference & Expo Oct. 14-16, by floral industry consultant Stan Pohmer and consumer trends expert Shawna Suckow.
In this exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer, Pohmer and PMA floral lead Becky Roberts preview the report and the Fresh Summit workshop.
PG: Why did PMA and FMI sponsor this research project?
Roberts: PMA’s floral staff worked with our Floral Council and members, and identified three priority business needs of the mass-market floral industry. One of those priorities was a need for research on industry and consumer trends, and their business implications. (The other two priorities are creating networking opportunities, and floral-specific professional and leadership development.)
Our floral departments don’t have the same kind of business information tools that other store departments have. PMA took on this industry benchmarking research project with FMI to help address that need for information about what’s going on in supermarket floral departments.
The floral department, perhaps more than any other, provides that sensual attraction in the store. Beauty still needs business sense, though, so it’s critical that we apply the same types of data and analysis in floral that we do throughout other store and chain departments.
PG: Tell us more about this research?
Pohmer: Retail floral buyers and category managers have always had metrics for their own individual companies, but have lacked the ability to benchmark their store’s or company’s performance against the aggregate floral community – their peers and competitors.
This study provides that benchmarking opportunity. The last time such data was collected for the mass-market floral industry was in 2003, and much has happened in this industry since then.
This project surveyed experienced headquarters-level retailers of every format who represent nearly 15,000 stores and nearly $3 billion in floral product sales. Conducted by the floral marketing research firm Prince & Prince, the report and its findings provide an aggregated snapshot of where the mass market is for floral today in key areas – such as average store sales, floral sales growth, labor and shrink. Are sales increasing or decreasing? What are their operational priorities – are they focusing on increasing profitability, using their scan data or buying at lower prices?
Importantly, this research also asked retailers about their future direction to get at where they are thinking the marketplace is going, and how they are going to react to that marketplace.
PG: What is going to be presented at Fresh Summit?
Pohmer: Consumer trends expert Shawn Suckow and I are going to analyze key findings of the study in light of what we know about consumer trends and needs, to identify new opportunities to capture additional sales and run a more profitable business. We will take a hard look at past and current performance as they relate to current and future consumer trends.
For example, the survey documents that a majority of retailers are trending toward full service, and one of the consumer trends we know is that Millennials want customization and personalization. Yet, there’s an extremely small variance in the average transaction retail value between full-service retailers and self-service. We’ll talk about ways to leverage consumer trends and store activities to generate incremental sales and profits.
PG: How can our readers access the report?
Roberts: PMA and FMI will provide the report to our members in the near future. Contact your association for specifics. In the meantime, join us at Fresh Summit in Orlando. Visit www. freshsummit.com for information about our floral programming, and to register.