If you are involved in a supermarket floral operation,
everything you do is somehow vitally connected with the
operations of your total store plan. According to the Food
Marketing Institute, food sales are a $1 trillion business in
the United States, and nearly half of that huge sum is earned by
the restaurant industry, especially fast food. Already,
competitors for food sales have cut the number of potential
grocery store customers almost in half.
The implications are important: There is serious competition for
food customers, and that competition directly affects you. Your
customers are food customers shopping in your store.
Aiming your marketing and promotional events toward specific
customers in your store can help to increase your floral sales.
In this article, you’ll learn about three groups of
shoppers—women, men and teenagers—and discover strategies on how
to increase your share of their floral dollars.
the female customer
According to the Society of American Florists’ (SAF) fourth
edition of The Changing Floriculture Industry: A Statistical
Overview, your primary floral customer is the female head of the
household, who usually is a member of a two-person family. Her
children are probably grown and have moved away. She is highly
educated, wants a high-quality floral product that gives her
personal satisfaction and enjoyment, and is usually buying
flowers for her personal use.
Your approach to the female customer should focus on the quality
and benefits of your floral items. Long-lasting flowers, new
varieties, easy-to-care-for items and fragrant florals are all
key motivators for your primary customers.
Your in-store signage is an important part of your marketing.
Make sure the pricing is clear and the information on the signs
is understandable. Wording like “assorted blooming” or “consumer
bunches” is unclear and not very helpful to female customers. Be
specific: “Hydrangea and lily plants, $9.99 each,” or
“Carnations, $4.99 a bunch.”
Pay attention to your UPCs, making sure the prices are clearly
marked on the labels. More customers than you might think will
return items to the buckets if they cannot determine the prices
quickly and easily.
A knowledgeable sales staff is important, too. Consider these
results from a recent study examining how gender influences the
shopping experience. According to He Buys, She Shops: A Study of
Gender Differences in the Retail Experience, conducted by The
Verde Group; the Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative at the
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; and
WomenCertified, a consumer advocacy group, 24 percent of women
surveyed are loyal to stores with associates who are familiar
with products and where to find them. Six percent of women walk
away from retailers because of unavailable sales associates.
the male customer
Floriculture sales in the United States total about $19.5
billion in all categories—cut flowers, potted flowering plants,
foliage plants, bedding and garden plants, cut cultivated greens
and propagative materials. And your average floral customer
spends about $55 per year on floral purchases, SAF’s The
Changing Floriculture Industry: A Statistical Overview reports.
Finding a new floral customer can be the best and most effective
method to increase your sales and profits. Consider targeting
men for growth in floral sales.
Men make up about 21.4 percent of your floral sales, the SAF
report reveals, a figure that offers a lot of room for growth.
Here are easy tips to remember when offering floral products to
a male customer.
• He is probably in your department because he wants to buy
flowers as a gift. It is vital to have upgraded and gift-ready
items for the male customer. He wants to get in and get out.
• He probably does not have a firm idea in mind of what he wants
to purchase. Simple signs that identify “Perfect for Gift
Giving” or “She Will Love You for It” are easy to make and will
communicate the message quickly and effectively.
• He is not concerned with the cost as long as he feels the
value is there. Start with a higher price point because you can
always come down. Have upgraded dozen roses in the cooler with
prices clearly marked. More often than not, the rose
arrangements will be gone when you come in the next morning.
Roses that are not arranged will not sell.
• He does not know much about flowers and will rely on you, the
expert, to help him make his decisions. Your experience will be
invaluable when recommending the perfect floral gift. The He
Buys, She Shops: A Study of Gender Differences in the Retail
Experience study reveals that 68 percent of men surveyed said
stores that win their loyalty have sales associates who help
them find the items they want, and quickly.
• He will return over and over again if he feels comfortable
with his purchases. However, the gender study says 5 percent
will walk away and not return if they can’t find the products
they are looking for.
Being involved in high school activities has become a new and
exciting way to increase your floral sales and generate a new
customer base—teenagers. Tracy Terrace, vice president of sales
and marketing for Aerial Bouquets, offers these suggestions for
tapping into high school “spirit week” or homecoming activities
in your community to generate new sales.
• Early preparation is the key to creating a successful event.
Begin your planning in June for the fall season. If you
supervise several stores, make it easy for the floral
managers—pull all the key ingredients together, including party
favors, mascot plush, mascot balloons and so on. Use a supplier
that can do most of the legwork for you. Choose customized
floral items that can be used for the entire school year.
• Pick only one or two of the largest high schools in your area.
If you attempt to create a display for all the schools in your
community, you may end up creating clutter and confusion in your
displays. Do some research to find out school colors, school
mascots and when key events take place. Be aware that school
events will begin a week or two in advance, so be prepared to
manage your inventory.
• Meet with your store manager to develop a game plan. Identify
custom products and cross-merchandising ideas that will work
with the bakery, deli and snack departments.
• Create a team spirit display within your department by
offering school logo items and floral arrangements in the school
colors. Members of your department or the entire store can
participate in spirit week activities by wearing football
jerseys, playing the school fight song over the intercom system
and displaying school banners. Have as much fun as the
neighborhood during this week.
the apple pie strategy
McDonald’s asked every customer, with each order, if he or she
would like an apple pie? That simple question to every customer
generated millions of dollars in additional sales. Here’s an
opportunity to increase sales by having your store’s front-end
cashiers ask a simple question: “Would you like to try our
floral ‘Item of the Week’?”
• Begin by organizing with your store manager. You will need
displays and point-of-purchase materials at the front of the
• Select an easy item with customer appeal. Alstroemerias are a
good choice because they are long lasting, easy to care for and
come in many colors.
• Prepare a script for cashiers. Add tips about the item that
will appeal to customers. Your supplier should be able to help
• Sample products in advance. Start by training the cashiers
about the product that will be featured. Some stores have given
each cashier a bunch of the featured item to take home and
enjoy. This has proved to boost cashiers’ confidence when they
encourage customers to try the Item of the Week.
• Have charts with care-and-handling tips at the registers.
Offer handouts when customers buy the feature items.
• Place Item of the Week signs on the backs of the registers
where they face customers as they are waiting for their
transactions to be completed. This will reinforce the Item of
the Week and encourage impulse sales.
• Encourage employees to wear buttons saying, “Ask me about the
Item of the Week” to stimulate interest in the promotion.
For added incentive, companies can monitor each store daily
during the promotion. Publish results daily for the top sales of
a single cashier and the top store in the chain. An incentive
program should include store managers and front-end managers.
Promotions linked to school events truly tie your store closer
to the community, a key ingredient to competing in today’s
marketplace. Here are more school activities that offer floral
• Back-to-school activities, including football and cheerleading
practice. Put together a display of school colors and mascots,
and show your community spirit.
• Homecoming dances, proms and graduations are all potential
sales events. Parents (mothers especially) will be in the store
for the entire week before each event getting ready to entertain
the kids with football and mascot cakes, cupcakes (a growing
category), snacks and all things available to decorate in school
colors. Moving related floral items like balloons, mascot plush
and cut flowers in school colors to the bakery and deli
departments make it easy for moms to grab and go.
• Encourage ordering in advance with a mini display (balloon
bouquet, mascot bear and flowers) at a school’s front desk with
a note saying the items are available at your store.
• Although spirit week often culminates in September or October
and usually is tied to homecoming, many schools have added a
spirit week to their spring calendars. Call schools in your area
to find out if they offer spirit week in the spring, too.
• In some areas, it has become a trend for a boy to present his
date’s mother a rose when picking up the daughter for a dance.
Emphasize this add-on sale when orders for corsages are placed.
• Typical customers for high school floral purchases are
boyfriends and girlfriends, best friends, siblings, parents,
grandparents and neighbors.
The three demographics profiled—women, men and teens—are keys to
your floral department’s growth. The simple yet effective
marketing strategies outlined in this article can increase
sales, build loyalty and strengthen ties to your community.
Pam Smith, AAF, PFCI, is director of marketing for Nature’s
Flowers and an editorial adviser for Super Floral Retailing. Her
background includes five years as a supermarket floral director,
10 years with Teleflora and eight years as a traditional
florist. You may reach her by phone at (314) 966-5763.
You may reach Amy Bauer by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (800)