Merchandising Matters More In 2019

Originally printed in the January 2019 issue of Produce Business.

A new year provides opportunities, and this year is ripe for a fresh flower and plant revolution.

Is there time to look around and ask, what’s happening in this world? Along with the frenzied daily pace, mysterious political climate and companies adding cannabis to practically everything, robots are in U.S. greenhouses — but not yet making bouquets. Produce-filled salads are trending as breakfast dishes, and desserts featuring sweetened vegetables are gaining popularity nearly at warp speed. The plant boom and interest in houseplants as pets continues while throngs of consumers fervently post their favorite plant photos online. A new year means new opportunities, and 2019 is ripe for a fresh flower and plant revolution.

As floral retailers battle encroaching competition, merchandising will matter more. Retailers, this is the year to go all out and focus on making the in-store experience convenient, pleasurable and customer-minded. Looking at immediate opportunities, here are a few ideas retailers are implementing and considering in the quest to engage, educate, entertain and maintain floral customers in the store.

Super Opportunities

Second only to Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday is reported as the largest day of food consumption in the United States. Along with WeatherTech, TurboTax and other advertisers, Avocados from Mexico is scheduled to again gain grand consumer exposure during the February 3 Super Bowl in Atlanta. Savvy floral retailers will boldly merchandise for the big game weekend and capture those produce consumers shopping for chips and salsa to go with their guacamole.

Flowers might not be on the football weekend shopping list so boost the grab-and-go floral selection and capture customers’ attention with easy-to-purchase balloons – helium and air-filled. Anagram International, Eden Prairie, MN, offers a line of air-filled Team Spirit Sticks featuring NFL teams. Sort of the new version of those big foam fingers seen in stadiums, the Spirit Sticks are ideal add-ons, great for kids and can easily upgrade a bouquet, a six-pack or a guacamole centerpiece.

Chinese New Year

February 5 is Chinese New Year and in-the-know retailers will be ready in Produce and Floral with bountiful offerings for people celebrating the two week event. This is a renewal time where the focus is on family, friends, food and wishes for a new year filled with prosperity. To engage in-store customers, floral merchandisers will have fun with the Year of the Pig theme. For additional CNY social media exposure, floral retailers can create a Gram-worthy Fortune display of flowers and plants featuring fortune cookie-style messages complete with lucky numbers.

Galentine’s Day

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, more retailers are opting to extend the floral-centric event by merchandising for Galentine’s Day on the 13th. If Galentine’s Day is unfamiliar to you, it’s the unofficial/fictionalized holiday mentioned in 2010 on the popular television satire sitcom Parks and Recreation. Ever since, the gals celebrating gals occasion has been gaining strength. By Googling and searching on Pinterest, consumers find plenty of brunch recipes and party decorating ideas featuring flowers and plants.

Supermarkets can go for a full store promotion by cross merchandising floral items for Gal Day in produce, bakery and deli. Scott Hill, vice president of sales and marketing, The USA Bouquet Company, Miami, views selling bouquets featuring flower colors not typically used during Valentine’s Day as a profitable opportunity for retailers reaching a customer base not exclusively purchasing flowers for romantic relationships.

Mardi Gras

Sticking with the food and floral alignment, Mardi Gras celebrations starting March 5 are perfect for merchandising floral gifts flaunting the festive New Orleans style and Mardi Gras colors – purple, green and gold. Encourage pre-ordering by featuring an advance display of over-the-top floral arrangements designed for Carnival celebrations. This indulgence and celebratory period before the fasting season of Lent begins makes it ideal timing for a parade-themed floral display adorned with beads, doubloons and other parade toys. Plush has its place since party hosts also decorate with small stuffed animals which become party favors. It’s not all about King Cakes, Jambalaya and crawfish boils – promote floral as a must for all Mardi Gras celebrations.

Celebrate Women

International Women’s Day is March 8, but floral retailers can wisely promote the celebration the entire month – through and beyond St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. If an official tie-in is needed, retailers can connect the holiday with Women’s History Month observed throughout March in the United States. Retailers, keeping in mind the store’s philosophy, encourage floral teams to celebrate women and promote the floral department as the story place for posting photos of women with flowers and plants. The customer base is broad so create gift displays featuring scented candles, spa products, potted orchids, gardening items and foliage plants.

International Women’s Day is an official holiday observed on March 8 by the United Nations since 1975. Depending on the source, documentation shows the holiday was started in the United States in 1909. Many bouquet companies and other foliage vendors provide colorful graphics that inform shoppers and inspire them to celebrate women. Post online promotions and remind shoppers that flowers and plants provide feelings of peace, beauty and happiness.

Salute An Iron Lady

Looking for another merchandising idea in March to engage customers and involve additional departments in the store? Think French and celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower. Predictions indicate the iconic tower will be grandly celebrated for the March 31st anniversary, which was originally constructed for the entrance of the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris.

The floral department can be transformed into a Parisian paradise with all things Eiffel by offering bouquets with Champagne picks and Paris-related hand towels, candles and lavender sachets. Signage containing Eiffel Tower trivia questions can engage customers while an Eiffel Tower backdrop will enable selfies for social media fans. Coloring contests for kids can be promoted online along with educational facts about the Eiffel Tower history.

Host a store-wide Favorite French Food contest where the winning participants will be rewarded with custom bouquets. For full flavor and authentic fragrances, hire a crepe maker to enhance the event with samples of irresistible crepes featuring fresh berries from Produce. Bakery, Seafood and Spirits will also want to step in on this architectural celebration since March 31 is on a Sunday – perfect for those delicious French-inspired brunches. A toast with a Bellini featuring peach puree, honoring Gustave Eiffel, the engineer, would be apropos for this ooh la la event. This in-store commemoration could be an impressive effort to increase floral sales and show customers how to have fun with flowers on nontraditional occasions.