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      In early May 2009, the Society of American Florists (SAF) released the results of its “Generations of Flowers Study,” which, in January 2009, evaluated the flower-buying habits of three generations of consumers, as defined by SAF: Generation Y, also known as Millennials, who are ages 18-30; Generation X, ages 31-44; and Baby Boomers, ages 45-60. Inspired by the study’s intriguing findings, we embarked on our own research to learn how to market to the newest generation of consumers. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve learned from SAF and other sources.

forces of change

      By many accounts, today’s younger consumers are harder for marketers to reach, and that’s not expected to change anytime soon. According to the 2007 report, “Retailing 2015: New Frontiers” by PricewaterhouseCoopers and TNS Retail Forward, “The evolving consumer in the near future will not be easy for retailers to understand or master. … [These] consumers will put heightened emphasis on personalization, look for opportunities where their input matters and [will be] increasingly proactive in their purchase decisions and selective about with whom they do business.”

      This evolution is encouraged by technology. Although today’s younger shoppers are almost always connected to the rest of the world via some type of communication device (smartphones and computers), they are not necessarily tuning into local television and radio broadcasts or reading local papers—at least not the mainstream print versions. So how is a marketer to promote products to a new generation?

  the millennial generation:  
  • Are the children of Baby Boomers, born between 1979 and 1991 (although demographers differ on this estimate)

  • Numbers 60 to 80 million strong, rivals the Baby Boomers in size and accounts for approximately 25 percent of the U.S. population

  • Has spending power that exceeds $200 billion annually

  • Is racially diverse; one in three is not Caucasian

  • Embraces technology, especially mobile technology, and is expected to change the way goods and services are purchased in the future

  • Cherishes individuality and welcomes change; likes to “discover” the newest finds

  • Is highly cause oriented and socially responsible; products that are “organic,” “locally grown” and “fair-trade certified” are valued

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; BusinessWeek; Cone, Inc. and SAF Floral Trend Tracker.


go where they are

Rob Callender, insights director at Teen Research Unlimited (TRU), recently told Nielsen Business Media that “[the Internet] is a way of life for teens, and they don’t want to be ‘bugged’ too much [online],” but most marketers are finding ways to reach out via Facebook, YouTube videos and other online hot spots anyway. Moreover, SAF’s research indicates that a majority of consumers use the Internet to view floral arrangements and check prices.

      You can:

Make sure your floral department is featured on your store’s Web site and that at least some of your floral design work is included.

Create a Facebook page for fans to see your work. Go to, and click on “Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business” (just below the sign-up section). This is the only way for businesses to have a presence on the site, but you can post lots of pictures and connect with customers.

Start “tweeting” on Twitter. Go to, and click on “Sign up now.” You can be tweeting about new cut flowers, creative design options and much more in just a few minutes.

Create fun, how-to videos to teach viewers some easy techniques for flower care and basic floral designs. Post them on YouTube at Start by clicking on “Create Account”; the rest is easy.

Ask for their e-mail addresses and mobile numbers, so you can send them alerts on new products, discounts and special offers. Tell your young customers that they’ll be the first to know about your newest floral finds.

EVENTS If events in your area attract younger crowds, such as skateboarding, snowboarding and other “extreme” sports competitions; high school and college sporting events; and concerts, consider going there, too. Choose events that can somehow tie-in to your merchandise.

      You can:

Hand out discount cards for products related to upcoming events, especially Mother’s Day (according to TRU’s research, 80 percent of teens rated their mothers as the most influential person in their lives); high school and college homecoming and other celebrations; campus formals; etc.

Offer discounted or donated floral décor for relevant fundraisers. (Cone, Inc.’s research shows that 89 percent of Millennials are “likely or very likely” to switch from one brand to another—assuming price and quality are equal—if the new brand supports a worthy cause.)

IN YOUR STORE According to research by Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), Millennials are “on the brink of experiencing a broad range of lifestyle changes, such as first home purchases, marriage … and larger incomes.” Therefore, the frequency of their supermarket visits is likely to increase. IRI’s research also indicates that female Millennial consumers “are still making impulse purchases, and only a small number have a set grocery budget.” However, IRI’s research shows that “Millennials are less concerned with perimeter departments, such as fresh produce and fresh meat,” so you have to put your products where these shoppers go.

      You can:

Cross merchandise in several key locations. Try displays in the health food, snack food and beverage aisles (alcohol and energy drinks may be great pairings) as well as near the checkout.

Keep cash-and-carry cost effective. Brent Baarda, director of IRI Consulting & Innovation, explains that “Millennials (who have been stung by the recession more than older shoppers) have cut back spending on many of the luxury-driven, nice-but-don’t-need categories across the store,” so affordability is critical.

  millennials’ flower purchasing habits  

Compared to Boomers and Gen Xers, Gen Y consumers are significantly LESS likely to:

  • Have a high appreciation of flowers

  • Agree with the emotional aspects associated with the gift of flowers, such as the ability to lift one’s spirits

  • See giving flowers as “personal” or to purchase flowers as a “personal pick-me-up”

  • Differentiate florists from other retailers in terms of key attributes, such as quality and freshness

  • Purchase mixed flowers

Gen Y is MOST likely to:

  • Purchase individual flowers, including roses, tulips, lilies, daisies and orchids

  • Purchase flowers in person and deliver flowers themselves, which echoes a “personalization” trend in this generation’s gifting habits

  • Purchase flowers to impress guests in their homes—significantly higher than other generations

Source: SAF’s “Generations of Flowers Study”


give them what they want

Pretty, fluffy and gardeny probably won’t attract most young potential flower consumers. Instead, try colorful and a little edgy and maybe some unexpected bling.

    While a youthful, out-of-the-ordinary style will interest Millennials, they’re also concerned about the social and ecological implications of their purchases. As reported in Cone, Inc.’s 2006 “Millennial Cause Study,” “Millennials are the most socially conscious consumers to date.”

    After surveying 1,800 Millennial men and women, researchers found that “69 percent consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop” and “83 percent will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible.”

    So if you purchase certified-organic, fair-trade or locally grown fresh-cut flowers; eco-friendly containers; etc., make sure your shoppers know that.

      You can:

Post appropriate signage near your organically grown fresh flowers and/or environmentally friendly products.

Promote your eco-friendly efforts on your Web site, in your advertising and in every other possible medium. Newly arriving eco-friendly products are definitely subjects for Facebook page updates, “tweets” on Twitter, etc.

keep them engaged

Change and variety are valued by these consumers. And when they find things they like, they spread the word.

      You can:

Look for unusual floral materials and/or unusual varieties and colors.

Change the selections regularly.

Point out that these products are special and unusual, to encourage word-of-mouth promotion.


  flower purchase behavior (all generations)  

Retail venues that provide convenience and low-price options are most popular, especially among younger generations.

  • A higher percentage of consumers stated they typically purchase flowers at supermarkets (73% self, 68% gift) versus a local florist shop (61% self, 64% gift).

  • Flower quality and freshness (76%), getting what you expect (76%) and flower longevity (70%) are all very important to consumers when shopping at a florist.

Most consumers prefer to purchase flowers in person (67%).

  • Only one in eight (12%) prefers the Internet, but it plays an important role in the purchase process.

  • Of those who have used the Internet when purchasing flowers, a majority have gone online to see pictures of different arrangements (53%), to price flowers (45%) and to send flowers out of the area (42%).

Despite current economic conditions, more consumers indicate they will purchase flowers as gifts more frequently than in previous years (32%) rather than purchase them less often (25%). The opposite is true when purchasing for themselves (9% more often, 37% less often).

Source: SAF’s “Generations of Flowers Study”


Reach Senior Editor Shelley Urban at or (800) 355-8086.


Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.