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If you decide to stop and buy a bunch of flowers, whether they be for yourself or to hand over as a gift to someone else, what is the main driver which influences your decision? Is it that voucher that you received in the post or by email from your local florist or supermarket? Is it the sudden feeling that you should present something thoughtful to a friend or a family member in need? Or is it simply the appearance and scent of the flowers which draws you in and leads you to make a purchase?
Unlike so many other industries and sectors on the high street and online, the industry around flowers is one which lends itself particularly well to spontaneous purchase – primarily due to the fact that flowers are so intrinsically linked with our senses. They look good. They often smell great. And they make us feel more positive – driving us towards making an unplanned purchase.
Exploring the Flowers (Floral) industry
The floral industry largely began in the late 19th century in the United Kingdom, where flowers were grown and mass produced across large estates to create bouquets and presentation gardens – and since then has moved and developed to become a largescale industry which spans across the world.
With trends and fashions playing a huge part in determining which varieties and styles are popular, and with seasonal conditions altering what can be grown during which times of the year, the development of a global floral industry not only showcases the huge growth of the sector but also highlights the need for different countries and conditions to meet the growth and production needs of different retail markets.
One of the easiest ways to understand how the flower industry operates is by breaking it down into its three main components, namely the producer or grower, the wholesaler, and the retailer – though buyers will notice that modern brands in particular are becoming more and more self-sufficient in so far as they grow, design and sell their own arrangements and floral gifts. While the grower and producer is responsible for the production of the flowers, it is the retailer who must pull growing information together with customer experience in order to complete the sale – with the added challenge of the floral industry and live flowers constantly operating under the time limit of when the flowers are at their best.
Another way to look at the floral industry is to look at the power and growth of ecommerce buying and online shopping and compare that with the experience of going into a florist and selecting your own bouquet. While recent trends are increasingly driving forward the idea of local flowers and supporting local small businesses, the fact is that the ease and fast delivery promises of leading online gifting retailers like Moonpig and Funky Pigeon means that local flower shops are up against a vast competitor – increasing the call for local offers and discounts in order to drive that consumer demand away from the world of the internet and towards the locally grown and sourced flowers.
The fact is that in the flower industry, a great deal of the marketing is done through appearance and scent, with plenty of buyers turning to flowers as a quick and easy gift which never fails to go down well with the recipient. People love receiving flowers and they love looking at fresh flowers, and that as a marketing tool is one of the most powerful and the most influential in driving the industry forward. What really matters, especially moving into the future, is how the industry responds to the seasonal changes, the shifts in the way that consumers are buying, and the change in lifestyle and home décor styles which affects how flowers work in the modern home.
Top retailers in the flower industry
When it comes to looking at the biggest retailers within the flower industry, the first thing to look at is those larger brands which operate online – delivering flowers all over the country and often partnering with gift card retailers and other brands in order to create upsell opportunities where a buyer could match a bouquet with a bottle of wine or a valentines card. We have already touched upon two leading retailers in this largescale sector, namely Moonpig and Funky Pigeon, though there are others exclusive to their own countries – for example:
- Appleyard Flowers
- Serenata Flowers
- Bloom and Wild
What do all of these retailers have in common? They allow buyers to head online and send flowers anywhere in the country with ease – promising quick delivery and a high end experience for the recipient. Much of this promise is delivered and marketed to the buyer through testimonials and reviews, as well as tons of imagery and a strong social media presence which allows them to constantly keep in touch with and engage with their target customer. One of the most prominent factors of these delivery promises regards the transportation and postage of flowers – with the industry seeing a shift in recent years from floral delivery drivers to the more popular and more user friendly letterbox bouquets. Not only do these keep flowers well contained and protected, but they crucially make allowances for the recipient being away from home during delivery. This, when compared with the traditional face to face handing of flowers, is part and parcel of the reason why flower gifting in particular has now become so much more popular within the gifting and occasion industry.
It is also these larger floral retailers who are able to boast the widest selection of bouquets and arrangements tailored to different occasions – with birthday flowers, congratulations flowers, commiseration flowers, and everything in between all marketed on a central site. And finally, these are the retailers which offer various vouchers and deals according to seasonal trends and advertising opportunities, keeping in touch with customers via email marketing in order to draw them back in with re-engagement discounts and personalised vouchers for them to use.
The other retail sector which exists and operates within the flower industry is the standalone boutique florists and businesses, which largely serve their local communities and which often make a name for themselves through word of mouth and their local presence rather than through the power of the internet and online. These are the retailers which benefit from loyal customers, and which are the most likely to serve special occasions within their community – for example supplying wedding bouquets and funeral flowers. This is primarily because the buyer has the chance to actually go into the shop and select exactly what it is that they want – leaning once again on the power of the senses which remains a crucial part of the shopping and browsing experience within the flower industry.
Like the larger brands and retailers, these smaller local businesses and stores are also able to tailor bouquets and arrangements to a wide variety of occasions, though most crucially they are under a great deal more pressure to shift stock before buying new pieces in – resulting in discounts becoming available as they look to sell flowers before they go past their best. Buyers often find that local florists are those most likely to engage in detailed event breakdowns and consultations, buying in specific flowers and blooms in order to deliver tailormade buttonholes, wedding bouquets and event arrangements in line with the customer’s needs.
Trends within the flower industry
Did you know that 77% of flower purchases involve a specific occasion or reason?
The flower industry is one which is intensely linked and driven by the gifting and occasions sector, operating as just one branch of a huge industry which is designed to give buyers a whole plethora of options when it comes to celebrations and gifts. In order to stand out, the flower industry has to keep adapting and changing its focus in line with trends and popular styles – whether they be in the appearance of the flowers themselves or in the ways that they are marketed and purchased.
One of the leading trends in the industry, particularly with the rise in modern homes and the change in home styling which is quickly making its way through social media platforms, image sharing sites and home magazines, is the rise in popularity of indoor plants as well as flowers – leading to a vast increase in the amount of indoor potted plants which are being purchased to add natural life to the home. While this sector is served by garden centres and specialist indoor plant brands and retailers, it is also an area which many florists and flower industry brands are expanding into in order to remain relevant – with one great example being a London brand called Beards & Daisies, taking its floral gift sector focus and transforming that into a complete indoor plant business which now offers subscriptions as well as one off deliveries, sporadic discounts and deals, and loyalty gifts for returning customers. Appleyard Flowers, mentioned previously as one of the leading ecommerce retailers in the flowers industry, is another example of a retail brand which has taken the growing popularity of indoor plants in its stride – dedicating an entire section on the website to gifted pot plants of various sizes and styles, and utilising the power of email marketing and its own site to push various deals and seasonal sales, as well as harnessing the influence of popular cashback sites to further increase its website traffic and audience reach.
Another trend and one which is linked in part to the rise of indoor plants within the flower industry is the renewed focus on native flowers as opposed to consumers demanding exotic and brightly coloured flowers from all over the world. While there is still an unarguable place for bright and tropical looking flowers which grace many of the larger sites and flower distributors, the rise in demand for local flowers and native plants has seen a complete overhaul in the UK market in particular, giving small brands and local businesses a particularly good marketing opportunity to raise their profile as local brands offer locally grown flowers.
Of course, colour and home styling plays a large part in what is popular in the flower industry, with differing trends being largely responsible for the way that retailers and brands showcase their produce. A great example is the rise of neutral home décor, which is typically found in the most modern homes and which has pushed white flowers, natural twigs and stems, and even pressed flowers right to the forefront of the market as homeowners look for new ways to use both colour and texture within and as part of their home design. While these types of purchases are categorised as those bought by the homeowner for their own use, pressed flowers and dried flowers have also become a leading trend within the flower gifting market – expanding retailer ranges and steering them away from fresh bouquets to also offer framed pressed flowers and bunches of long lasting dried flowers.
Moving forward in the flower industry
The main driver within the flower industry, and one which has been responsible for much of its growth over the past few decades, has been the fact that flowers make the perfect gift for any occasion or situation. They can represent both total joy or complete sadness, with many florists using their platform as a chance to share expertise around the meaning behind each flower and what each bloom represents – for example roses are traditionally the flower of love, while lilies are representative of grieving and are most commonly used in funeral arrangements. There is a flower for everything within the industry, and it is this which allows the industry to keep growing – even with the rise of realistic fake flowers threatening to offset the need for real bouquets!
Finding vouchers and deals in the flower industry is largely a case of browsing and shopping in the right season and at the right time, with both the largescale retailers and smaller community businesses offering their own select discounts depending on the stock they have in and the occasions which are presented to them.