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“A dozen roses are almost cliché,” says Robert McLaughlin, president of Organicbouquet.com and CEO of BLP Commerce Inc. in Orlando, Fla. “Our demographic prefers a bigger wow factor. They like the European 20-stem rose bouquets. And rather than red roses, it’s about sending her flowers in her favorite color.”
McLaughlin, who defines the Organic Bouquet shopper as a LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Wellness) consumer, says this demographic was less affected by the economic downturn. “While we have seen people come back to flowers with incremental sales increases, our core customer is one who might not buy his wife expensive jewelry in a recession, but he will continue to buy flowers,” he says.
What resonates with Organic Bouquet buyers are midsize to large design-oriented arrangements and cut flowers. “The larger hand-tied California look that is full of greens is very popular,” says McLaughlin. “Customers want to feel proud about their floral purchase, but they expect a large bunch of flowers for $20 to $40.”
That fresh-picked California look is also popular with customers at United. “A simple, easier design look will continue,” asserts Henderson, who also predicts that colors and “the succulent craze will continue.”
Color and variety preferences in floral often depend on the demographic of the shopper, observes Eads. “We see that younger people are usually drawn to more exotic flowers in bright jewel colors, while older adults generally like traditional daisies or carnations in pastels and subdued colors.”
Whether the flowers are brightly hued or tried and true, Dorothy Lane Market (DLM) shoppers look for local. “We have a huge sign in our floral department that says ‘Local,’” says Casey Eads, floral manager for the Dayton, Ohio-based retailer's Oakwood store. The market gets locally grown flowers from Yellow Springs each day, including a signature bouquet of lilies and alstroemeria exclusive to DLM. “If it’s cut on Wednesday, we get it Thursday. That’s how fresh our flowers are,” she says.
Playing up local has helped floral sales at DLM, and so has more integrated collaboration with the produce department, according to Eads. “Produce and I do a fresh-market feel. We put flowers in with the produce. So, right now I have purple calla lilies entwined with the oranges. The bright purple against the oranges really stands out and shows customers that we have a floral department.”
While its scale is notably smaller than a wedding, its meaning is tremendous to teens attending prom -- most of whom buy flowers for this important rite of passage. Some savvy grocers, like DLM, are going after the prom set with promising results in floral.
The grocer recently hosted a prom fair with other area businesses at a local high school. “A lot of high school kids work at DLM,” notes Eads. “They get excited about buying boutonnieres and corsages with us.” The supermarket showed off an orchid headpiece at the event and held a raffle for a corsage and boutonniere. “Catering to prom really does create a lot of business,” adds Eads.