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
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
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 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
spending power that exceeds $200 billion annually
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
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.
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.
• 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
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
www.twitter.com, 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 www.youtube.com.
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.
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.
• 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
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.
• 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.
flower purchasing habits
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
flowers as “personal” or to purchase flowers as a
florists from other retailers in terms of key
attributes, such as quality and freshness
Gen Y is
MOST likely to:
individual flowers, including roses, tulips, lilies,
daisies and orchids
in person and deliver flowers themselves, which
echoes a “personalization” trend in this
generation’s gifting habits
to impress guests in their homes—significantly
higher than other generations
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
So if you purchase certified-organic, fair-trade or locally
grown fresh-cut flowers; eco-friendly containers; etc., make
sure your shoppers know that.
• 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.
• 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.
purchase behavior (all generations)
that provide convenience and low-price options are most popular,
especially among younger generations.
percentage of consumers stated they typically purchase flowers
at supermarkets (73% self, 68% gift) versus a local florist shop
(61% self, 64% gift).
and freshness (76%), getting what you expect (76%)
and flower longevity (70%) are all very important to
consumers when shopping at a florist.
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%).
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).
“Generations of Flowers Study”
Reach Senior Editor Shelley Urban at
email@example.com or (800) 355-8086.