The Secret Of Flowers: They Cause Us To Feel Happiness

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, E. Shaunn Alderman, associate publisher of FLORAL BUSINESS magazine, shares a message about the value of enjoying flowers and plants.

Asking if flowers are necessary is not the appropriate question at this time because now, more than ever, we need to feel the happiness flowers and plants can provide.

This is a confusing and frustrating time right now, and there is no handbook on how to not experience the anxiety that accompanies on-going news reports. But there is a message I hope is shared with consumers who are shopping for groceries or having them delivered via online ordering: Include flowers and plants on your shopping list.

The reason is simple: Flowers make us feel good. We could all use a great big dose of feel-good about now.

The happiness or feel-good factor is scientifically researched and documented. For years, the floral industry has known about these studies conducted by several accredited universities. Simply said, the published studies indicate when receiving and gifting flowers, our bodies undergo physiological changes, which basically turn on the feeling of happiness. This is the message that many floral industry members would like consumers to know.

Lane DeVries, president and chief executive of The Sun Valley Group Inc., based in Arcata, CA, says, “The prospect of people spending more time at home in the coming weeks is precisely where we, as a floral industry, can help play an important role. Flowers are the unifying symbol of joy, beauty, cheerfulness and healing. Flowers have a positive effect on overall health, they are a mood booster and a stress reducer. Flowers have the capability to fulfill a deep yearning for peace and joy in the hearts and souls of the consumer particularly at this time.”

During the uncertain period of social distancing, this is the time to turn to nature’s gifts and experience and share the feelings of joy and happiness that flowers bring. Families can gather cut greens from their yards and create their own green bouquets. If available, spring flowers can be added. Look for bouquets and houseplants at your supermarkets, and ask for them if the retailer does not have them displayed. Retailers invest substantially to convey the corporate philosophy that often focuses on health and wellness.

Asking if flowers are necessary is not the appropriate question at this time because now, more than ever, we need to feel the happiness flowers and plants can provide.

Scott Hill, vice president of sales and marketing at The USA Bouquet Company in Miami, encourages retailers to continue emphasizing the flowers’ health and wellness message. “We’re a bouquet distributor, and we bring in flowers to the United States from all over the world to distribution centers in six different states. From there the flowers go to supermarkets, mass markets and club stores, and eventually consumers. Essentially, we’re in the happiness business because that’s a major part of flowers.”

Hill says the past weeks have involved weighty discussions with major supermarket retailers about the operational challenges the stores are facing. Mass quantities of goods are fervently being purchased by anxious consumers and this, of course, increases the work load. Operating at the all-hands-on-deck pace, with a reduced work force in some places, can be exasperating. The term ‘unprecedented’ is used often on the television news, and the same word is certainly appropriate when describing what supermarkets are dealing with right now regarding supply and demand.

Hill explains, “Supermarkets want flowers. The key is how do we get them there when at this time there is enormous competition on delivery dollars.” Is the warehouse going to place a pallet of in-demand edible potatoes on the delivery truck or pallet of flowers?

As a vendor, Hill is empathetic about the strain on the retailers’ infrastructure as warehouse teams load goods and store crews work fanatically to restock store shelves. “The surge of business is definitely causing all segments to evaluate and reevaluate. Changes are happening every day. We’re all evaluating other ways to get the flowers to the stores,” says Hill. 

World Autism Day is April 2, and the company offers special bouquets designed specifically for autism awareness events hosted by communities throughout the month of April. Time will tell if families will be able to purchase those special bouquets this year.

In this period of elbow bumps and no handshakes, let’s consider the social value of connectivity when sharing flowers — either single stems or by the bunch. After all, visually, isn’t a bouquet a hug with stems?

As breaking news reports come across our screens, there seems to be a great deal of media coverage related to restaurants closing and how this extreme measure affects those foodservice and hospitality employees. A server with no wages and no tips still has family members to feed and rent to pay. We all eat and have bills, so universally there is great empathy for workers in foodservice.

The Be Well With Flowers poster visually provides an explanation of the findings from the Rutgers University study mentioned by Lane DeVries.

Looking at the floral industry, consumers can also feel empathetic for entire teams of people who make those grocery store, flower bouquets happen. To name a few, think about the flower growers and the crew of people who harvest, package, pack, transport, arrange and distribute bouquets. That’s akin to thinking about the lettuce farmer, the shipper, the wholesaler, the foodservice company, the chef, the servers, the dishwashers and the company that prints the menus. We’re talking about a global leg bone connected to a global knee bone.

We don’t even want to ask what happens to the spirit of consumers if they are unable to purchase flowers during this trying period of social distancing. Many stores are wrestling with this, because retailers obviously know customers need to feel the calm and joy flowers can bring. And in the coming weeks when Easter is celebrated, flowers will be needed for a sense of normalcy and hope, even if conditions are far from normal. After that, there will be Mother’s Day when flowers and plants need to be available for families to purchase. You can bet that direct store delivery (DSD) is a hot topic right now as a floral strategies for Easter and Mother’s Day are being formulated.

We’ve all seen bleak photos of empty store shelves. Asking if flowers are necessary is not the appropriate question at this time because now, more than ever, we need to feel the happiness flowers and plants can provide. Yes, consumer grocery budgets have likely been hit, but nurturing does not alone come from fruits and vegetables. A vase of flowers or a single flower on the countertop can serve as a reminder that nature nurtures us with gifts in many shapes and colors.

In the coming weeks, as gardening editors and family specialists reach out to readers and viewers, please consider reminding people how flowers and plants enhance our lives. Families suddenly learning to cope with homeschooling efforts can incorporate garden planning as part of the month’s lesson. Container gardens created with lettuce seedlings or blooming plants can provide numerous learning experiences. Starting seeds on a sunny windowsill will take on new meaning when it happens at home versus the classroom, and parents will photograph every little triumph. This will be a memorable chapter, and we all can make efforts to keep flowers and plants a meaningful part of our lives. Consumers need and deserve access to nature’s gifts to keep on blooming.