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    PMA Research Finds Supermarket Floral has Untapped Potential

    NEWARK, Del. -- Although supermarkets and club stores are well established with consumers as a source for fresh flower purchases, they have an opportunity to further expand their floral businesses, according to new research from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here.

    NEWARK, Del. -- Although supermarkets and club stores are well established with consumers as a source for fresh flower purchases, they have an opportunity to further expand their floral businesses, according to new research from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here.

    Primary shoppers who were surveyed by PMA said they are almost equally likely to buy flowers from a supermarket as a florist; 38 percent say they buy flowers from supermarkets, compared to 34 percent from local florists, and 5 percent from club stores.

    Consumers who buy flowers from supermarkets and club stores make both impulse and frequent purchases. Sixty-one percent of shoppers who buy flowers from these outlets report their purchases are made on the spur of the moment. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they buy flowers there at least once a month, and 36 percent buy on average once every three months.

    The survey suggests that the industry faces two challenges with consumers. First, consumers think florists provide fresher flowers than retailers; 45 percent of surveyed consumers told PMA they are “very satisfied” with the freshness of flowers they buy from florists vs. only 26 percent of those who buy flowers from retailers.

    “Florists get a freshness satisfaction rating from consumers that is almost double that of [supermarket] retailers,” said William J. Byland, Jr., PMA floral council chairman and v.p./Mickey’s Minis Flora Express. “We have some work to do to close this ‘freshness gap,’ even if it is based solely on perception.”

    PMA president Bryan Silbermann suggested some basic steps to address the freshness gap, including using in-store and on-package signage to offer handling tips and to communicate the retailer’s commitment to freshness and quality, and bundling flower food with all purchases. He also noted the importance of associate training, both to ensure that flowers are properly handled and stored before the sale and to provide high-quality customer service.

    Consumers also tend to relegate retailers’ flowers to everyday uses, yet turn to florists for flowers for special occasions. Surveyed consumers report they look to florists for five out of eight special occasions when flowers are typically given, including anniversaries, gifts, get-well wishes, and congratulations. Supermarkets and club stores are preferred sources for flowers for more casual, everyday uses.

    “There is a tremendous opportunity for supermarkets and club stores to increase their special arrangements business, if that fits their business model,” said Silbermann. “At a minimum, that takes a serious staffing commitment.”

    The telephone survey, conducted with 1,000 primary shoppers for PMA by Opinion Dynamics Corp. late May -- is the latest in an industry series sponsored by the trade organization.

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