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marketing poinsettias

Learn how this public-relations campaign reaches millions of European consumers.
  by Dr. Susanne Lux

      In Europe, more than 100 million poinsettias are sold in the weeks leading up to Christmas. As with many potted plants sold in Europe, poinsettias face a developed market with a high share of consumers age 60 and older. In order to reach younger generations, poinsettia breeders Dümmen, Fischer/Syngenta Flowers, PLA/Ecke and Selecta Klemm started the poinsettia marketing campaign “Stars for Europe” in 2000.

      Today, Stars for Europe operates in 16 European countries and spreads the message about poinsettias to millions of consumers. Here’s a look at how Stars for Europe is reaching those customers as well as how a campaign like this can work in the United States.

cost-effective communications
      Marketing campaigns for flowers and plants have a big advantage: Instead of paying millions for expensive branding, these products can be promoted cost-effectively by generic marketing, which includes more than point-of-sales activities or advertisements on television, radio and billboards. A powerful tool for marketing flowers and plants is public relations. It’s much easier to receive media coverage on “generic” products like plants than on specific brands or special products.

      The first step in a public-relations campaign is to establish relationships with the media. Knowing key persons in the editorial offices is essential.

      Follow-up and continuity are also important for the success of public relations. At the beginning of the campaign, poinsettia press materials were published across Europe about 550 times. In 2003, they were published more than 1,200 times. In 2008, about 2,000 media outlets reported on poinsettias, resulting in an audience of about 360 million people.

getting the word out
      Media kits in 13 languages are sent to several thousand media outlets all over Europe. When targeting high-end consumer media, it is important to provide a broad range of pictures so each magazine can choose according to its style. Articles providing useful information help the media have easy access to good, reliable material. Different topics usually are addressed, such as decorating with poinsettias, poinsettias as gifts or the start of the poinsettia season.

      Material for journalists can be downloaded from the Web site Web sites also are available for consumers.

promotional activities in the store
      In 2005, Stars for Europe decided to link public-relations measures with promotional activities in stores, starting with a campaign for German retailers. The promotional kit included posters and fliers, and in the first year, about 400 were sold for the equivalent of $50 each in Germany. In 2008, more than 600 promotional kits were sold to retailers in Germany. Meanwhile, more countries have adapted the promotional materials.

“stars for north america”?
      The starting point for generic marketing activities is an agreement for collecting funds for the campaign. With Stars for Europe, Dümmen, Fischer/Syngenta Flowers, PLA/Ecke and Selecta Klemm agreed to raise a marketing license fee of 0.5 euro cent per cutting.

      Marketing activities for poinsettias in North America could be even more cost-effective than in Europe. In Europe, 16 countries and 13 languages are involved. In North America, a campaign focusing on the United States, Canada and Mexico could reach about 450 million consumers speaking three main languages. Thousands of stores could be equipped with poinsettia promotion materials. Consumers want information about their plant purchases, and a campaign like ours has helped meet that need while promoting our industry.

     Dr. Susanne Lux, of mec marketing and ethics consulting, is a consultant in the horticultural industries. She provides market analysis and manages campaigns at “Stars for Europe,” the European poinsettia campaign. You can reach her by telephone at (011) 49-264-498-1333 or by e-mail at

Photo courtesy of “Stars for Europe.”
    Critical Mass offers experts in the floral business a monthly forum to express their views on a variety of topics of importance to the industry. These viewpoints are not intended to reflect the opinions of anyone at Super Floral Retailing or Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.


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