A Quest For Wellness – Offer Flowers And Plants As Solutions

Originally printed in the July 2020 issue of Produce Business.

If celebrating American Grown Flowers helps consumers enjoy more flowers in July, then go for it – but keep the promotional spirit going for the next 11 months.

In all 50 states July is American Grown Flowers month as designated for the fourth consecutive year by the United States Senate. This movement is wonderful because it brings about awareness of flowers and plants and encourages celebration. Flower farmers can be applauded for their contributions to summer tables adorned with blooms and cut greens grown in our 244-year-old country.

“As a California-based farm we have always celebrated American Grown Flowers month with excitement, but this year has been more meaningful than ever. As Americans remain under quarantine many are realizing the importance of nurturing their mental and physical health. They are discovering what we have been sharing for years — fresh flowers make you happy!,” says Lane DeVries, CEO and head grower, The Sun Valley Group, in Arcata, CA.

Massive displays will likely be created featuring the American Grown logo. The organization behind the origin-based label is Certified American Grown Flowers in Santa Barbara, CA. Consumers will grab a piece of modern-day Americana as they purchase, share or take home bouquets, cut greens and potted plants featuring the American Grown logo.

“We are supporting American Grown promotion,” says Bradley Gaines, business director of floral for United Supermarkets based in Lubbock, TX. “We need some positive vibes right now, and we are doing our best at bringing flowers and happiness to our guests.”

This is good. This promotion is beneficial for all – for the economy and as a health and wellness boost for people enjoying the flowers. But a point for retailers to remember is, just as in produce, floral consumption promotion is a year-round endeavor. Retailers will bring about awareness with the July promotion and engage consumers, but after that, there are 11 more months when retailers can continue customer engagement by offering and promoting flowers and plants as wellness elements for healthy living.

Remember The 5 A Day Program?

When the Produce For Better Health Foundation (PBH) was formed in 1991 to serve as co-sponsor of the 5 A Day for Better Health program, there was no clause in that encouragement that the consumables had to be American grown. The idea was to bring about awareness of the health benefits of consuming more fruits and vegetables.

In 2007, a new brand identity was formed called Fruits & Veggies – More Matters. The message remained focused on the nutritional benefits of consuming fruits and veggies. Again, there was no stipulation the produce consumed was required to be grown in America.

Since launching in 2019, the Have A Plant campaign continues to create consumer awareness on the health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables. The PBH operational statement continues as: “Committed to helping people enjoy happier, healthier lives by eating more fruits and vegetables every day.”

To share the produce story and educate consumers about healthy eating, promotional spotlights are often shone on farms, field workers and packing crews. Down-to-earth salutes are offered to growers, truckers and produce clerks. With this approach, seen online and in stores, consumers are alerted and engaged, which is meaningful as consumers indicate interest in the origin of items they consume and enjoy.

The time is right for more of these stories in floral. Make the connection between flower farmers and the floral products sold in your stores. Provide customers with interesting content about the flower farms, including what is grown, who works there and what the journey involves when transporting the flowers from field to vase.

Globally Grown Domestically Enjoyed

In Produce, ripe summer cherries can thrill consumers who seek the first summer sweetness as a traditional step they enjoyed at home long ago. They also might shop for summer sweet corn to launch backyard barbecue season. And those occasions also mean the search for juicy peaches is on. Seasons in Produce cause shoppers to become seekers. This happens in Floral as well.

Floral retailers in the United States know the value of enticing customers with global offerings. When the pandemic lockdown prevented shipments of Ranunculus from Italy and other offshore blooms, there indeed were plenty of disappointed shoppers who could not purchase their favorite seasonal delights. Disappointment was internationally experienced.

The point is, as in Produce, consumers have become suitably spoiled by the ease of access to global inventory of flowers grown in different hemispheres with different seasons. This is good because, as we all know, enjoying flowers and plants provides our minds and bodies with health benefits, which many significant studies have well reported.

Enjoyment may be the focus but the subliminal message trying to turn mainstream is that enjoying flowers and plants can boost self-care no matter where the plants are grown. But promotion is still needed in the U. S. to encourage consumers to purchase flowers and plants on a regular basis. We’re not Europe. It’s not yet typical in our culture to include flowers and plants in our weekly shopping trip. But this current environment of certain uncertainty seems to have caused a noticeable quest for tranquility and immunity.

Evaluate Local Cues

For supermarkets, mass markets and club stores navigating this pandemic-related new phase of shopping, floral management will want to pay attention to the heightened interest in products that can boost immunity. Because it aligns with floral department offerings, take notice of the increase in orange juice and citrus sales and direct customer interest in health.

Savvy retailers track produce department sales as a method of defining the emerging shopping patterns by in-store consumers and those ordering online to be fulfilled by insta shoppers for curbside pickup or delivery. Include floral when evaluating department-wide metrics to determine next level strategies.

Outside of stores, shifts in local real estate sales can provide clues to what floral department products are likely to be desired. Is there a surge of available condos on the market as consumers are seeking homes with outdoor space? In many regions, condo dwellers have become tired of the cooped-up feeling during the pandemic and have purchased single-family homes featuring private yards or patios. If the local single-family home sale numbers indicate a significant change, be prepared for an even greater uptick in sales of patio gardening products. Home buyers seeking living options with access to at least a private balcony will want plants and more to create tranquil outdoor spaces.

Maybe the pandemic will be credited, but now is the time to take Floral seriously and to unreservedly offer flowers and plants to customers seeking health and wellness throughout the year.