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critical mass

pots of profit

Colorful combinations of plants and containers will help lift customers’ gloomy spirits—and your sales.
  by John Stanley

      The downturn in the economy has hurt a number of different retail categories. Read most newspapers or listen to CNN, and you may believe that everyone is feeling gloomy.

      Consumers are “cocooning”—going out less and sitting at home while waiting for the economic storm to pass. But all is not gloomy; those customers sitting at home want to cheer themselves up. To do so, they’ve gone to pot—pots of paint and plants, that is.

      One of the ways people like to remove the gloom is to surround themselves with bright colors. That is why two bright spots in retail are the paint and garden categories.

retail opportunity

      Potted plants in bright colors offer profit opportunities, but just putting them on shelves and hoping they will sell is not the answer. To learn how to effectively merchandise and display plants, consider taking a serious look at how paint manufacturers put a story together for retailers.

      Paint retailers realize it is not the specific color that is important. They provide lifestyle pictures, solutions and ideas; they have become color trend solution centers. Consumers select from a color palette; they are told what color complements another.

      Florists also are experts in color combinations, especially when arranging cut flowers. The key is to take that expertise a step further and apply it to plants and container combinations. There is a huge opportunity for you to develop a “color fashion department” and to grow plant sales.

keys to success

      To learn how to use color more effectively to sell plants, try these seven steps:

      1. Read lifestyle magazines, and identify the up-and-coming color and form trends.

      2. Visit a progressive paint retailer, and look at how it displays its categories.

      3. Select a group of containers that complement your plants.

      4. Create container gardens that show you are a trendsetter.

      5. Offer consumers completed planted bowls as well as a designer service in which
          you create customized bowls for them.

      6. Plan now, and get ready for the spring color bonanza.

      7. Once you have created your concepts, position a color container department in a
          prime location in your store.

      With consumers now wanting to shop to cheer themselves up, they will be looking to retailers who understand color combinations and who are able to offer them color solutions. Container plants in the right combinations, in the right pots and at the right price points will ensure you have a winning formula.

John Stanley is an internationally acclaimed conference speaker and retail consultant. He is the author of several marketing and retail books including the best-sellers “Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know” and “Think For Your Customer.” For more information, visit his Web site,, or email


“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.


Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2009
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.