Is Value Overrated?

Has “value” eclipsed “green” as the one-word description of what drives consumer purchasing in 2010? Hard to say. Both continue to be trend drivers, but to learn more about this year’s trends, I checked out a site called Trends Spotting at http://tiny.cc/Iat5J
There I found 2010’s trends, influences and predictions, written in 140 characters by “experts” . They listed differentiation, branding and value as reoccurring themes, but other themes popped up, too:

• Value is a top priority.
• The message must include differentiation beyond pricing.
• Product assortment is a point of differentiation.
• Not made in China—”buy local” is part of the “circle the wagons” movement.
• Coupon activity increases.
• Consumers will purchase more expensive product if they are convinced of the products’ value.
• Sustainability, in every possible meaning of the word, is the only way forward.
• Direct to consumer options thrive.

These predictions dovetail nicely with many ASCFG practices; recent BB threads on eco-respectful packaging is a good example. The many ways growers entwine trend predictions with their own modus operandi doesn’t stop at crop differentiation. Buy local, sell direct to consumers and be cognizant of framing every action, from crop handling to selling flowers at a profit level, with sustainability in mind.

Long gone are the days when it was enough for growers to simply grow. The business model today necessitates growers be marketers, too. What trend ideas can you incorporate into business this year? How about the consumer craze for coupons? As the experts duly noted, coupon activity is predicted to increase. How can you use coupons to your advantage? If you’re selling directly to the public at farmers’ markets, use coupons or a frequent buyer card to entice customers to repeatedly seek out your product. It also is one more vehicle to get your name in front of them on something that will not be immediately discarded.

What actions are you planning to use to build or improve brand awareness? First law of branding: get your company name on everything from sleeves to price signs and email signatures to clothing and delivery vans. If you’re selling directly to retail florists, make sure they have a fridge magnet or laminated card that includes your company name, logo, email address and telephone number. With smart phone technology, your name must be easily accessible, not dug out or looked up.

What about your logo? Keep in mind that a logo is a symbol that provides consumers with instant, and powerful, brand recognition. Effective logos stick in your head—names not so much—so fall in love with a logo that sticks. When you ask friends and family for their opinions, be sure to include a variety of ages in your survey.

Is a cool logo trend-smart? Yes, because it recognizes this 2010 prediction: Visual fluency—the ongoing shift from words to images—will accelerate. Transparency and authenticity are important, too. Customers like the back story. It’s the details that make your product different from the cookie cutter bouquets they get at their supermarket. Make sure signage is not only legible but creative too—a little edginess grabs attention.

Diversify or Perish

Ha! ASCFG members are ahead of the curve by a lap or two in this category. Heck, you have to produce something better and different than what the flower factories in Colombia and Ecuador are churning out. On the ASCFG Bulletin Board, Joe Schmitt recently commented on retail responses to Persicaria, a crop that some ASCFG members are growing. He wrote “It caught the attention of some, was ignored by others. That’s often the case with new introductions. Seems some new items need to be around a while to catch on. I think sometimes we suffer from the super-mega-mart problem of too many choices. That and the need for customers to develop a history of vaseworthiness (if I may coin a word here).”

Fantastic word, Joe! “Vaseworthiness” satisfies two more trend predictions: Winning brands will innovate and differentiate, and Product assortment is a point of differentiation. We flower chemical companies are looking to win sales by respecting the same predictions. Growers would never choose a flower variety solely by comparing seed price, but postharvest treatments are often chosen simply on price. What’s the cheapest bucket of powder offered? In fact, different formulas give different results and the direction in flower solutions is a focus on treating the weakest point affecting overall performance. The idea, of course, is that improved vase performance ramps up the value of any cut flower. For example, hydration formulas having a synergy of flow boosters. Bulb formulas that rebalance cell chemistry to prevent premature yellow foliage and short vase life, all variables evaluated in the process of deeming a flower/grass/filler/foliage vaseworthy.

Friend Me!

Social networking getting you down? It is me. I feel perpetually guilty at the grimace that crosses my face when I get an invite from LinkedIn or Facebook. But I had new eyes after reading the March/February copy of Canadian Florist. Publisher Sue Fredericks wrote of how she’s shifting her view from a social networking skeptic to a believer. Citing a real life example in which a Twitter blog turned around a dismal business situation, changing the customer mix in the process, gave Sue (and me!) a new way of looking at it. Since marketing and branding involves telling your story, why not utilize social media as a tool to tell/sell your story? Another way to tip the scale toward your success is by recognizing the 2010 prediction: We are all media, the influence of one.

As the new season opens and sales starting revving up, tweak your marketing efforts with trend predictions in mind. Your flowers are hip, why shouldn’t your marketing efforts follow advice of experts who decide what trends will persuade customers to buy? The conversationdoesn’t end with differentiation, visual communication or value as purchase drivers. The best prediction is last: (F)luxury: luxury will be whatever consumers want it to be over the next 12 months. Flowers are (f)luxurious!

Gay Smith

Technical Consulting Manager

Gay Smith is the Technical Consulting Manager for Chrysal USA. Contact her at [email protected]