International Women's Day

Mark your calendars. Get out the highlighter and color in March 8, 2015, International Women’s Day. Then get ready to sell flowers, because it is absolutely certain that there will be a lot of hype around this flower day come spring. Plan now for a sales spike in week 9-10.

What’s spurring the hoopla in the U.S. of this international day of recognition for women—a day usually ignored in this country? Every year at the Society of American Florists (SAF) convention, Design Master Color Tool sponsors a generous prize awarded to the company developing a great strategy for increasing sales, marketing flowers to consumers, and generally improving flower awareness. This year the award was presented to Sun Valley Floral Farms for their promotion of celebrating Women’s Day. The idea was sparked during a weekly staff meeting in 2009, when the manager of Sun Valley’s west coast evergreens division (a woman) noted how great it would be if this international holiday could become a special flower day in the United States. Wheels started turning, and a campaign was launched as a way to increase everyday sales by giving consumers a reason to buy.

If you’re feeling a bit cynical about another “made-up” flower holiday, take a second look—in fact, banish the word “holiday” from the discussion entirely. Women’s Day is a celebration in which we can all share. The facts are compelling; perhaps the most convincing being the 76% sales spike Sun Valley has realized in week 9, in years 2012 to 2014. Women’s Day is a natural venue to increase everyday sales without guilt-tripping consumers with the burden of another Hallmark holiday.

A no-brainer on many levels, considering the celebration is not tied to any particular flower type or flower color. The date falls in a traditionally slow flower sales month, and during that long stretch between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Women’s Day does not designate any particular relationship between the giver and receiver.

Don’t forget about the sheer numbers potential: according to 2010 census figures, females comprised 50.8 percent of the total U.S. population. We sisters, mothers, wives, lovers, aunties, grandmas, teachers, colleagues, friends, doctors, students…we want to be recognized for our awesomeness and we LOVE flowers!

Bread and Roses

Women’s Day has deep roots in U.S history, started in the garment district of New York City in early 1900s. Quoting from the United Nations web site, 15,000 women marched through New York City on March 8, 1908 “demanding shorter work hours, better pay, voting rights, and an end to child labor. They adopted the slogan “Bread and Roses”, with bread symbolizing economic security and roses a better quality of life. In May of that year, the Socialist Party of America designated the last Sunday in February for the observance of National Women’s Day. The first-ever National Women’s Day was celebrated in the United States on February 28, 1909.

International recognition of Women’s Day resulted from a suggestion at a 1910 conference in Copenhagen of socialist organizations around the world, where 100 women representing 17 countries met and designated March 8 as an International Day to mark the strike of garment workers in the United States. Women’s Day was established to honor the movement for women’s rights, including the right to vote (known as “suffrage”).

The Time is NOW!

Although Women’s Day was recognized as early as 1909, the most significant social and economic changes for women and women’s rights have happened only in the last 50 years. Women’s Day continues to empower women everywhere to fight for gender equality. “The United Nations General Assembly, celebrates International Women’s Day to recognize that peace and social progress require the active participation and equality of women, and to acknowledge the contribution of women to international peace and security.”

Originating in the USA and actively celebrated around the world, it is time we raise awareness in this country and celebrate how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go to in our struggle for equality.

In 2010, Sun Valley started handing out flowers in Washington, D.C. to raise awareness of Women’s Day by reminding consumers to give flowers to the women they appreciate. On March 8, 2014, they handed out 10,000 tulips in key New York City landmarks. Their campaign also includes providing wholesaler and supermarket customers with POP materials. They have clearly thrown down the gauntlet; think how powerful it will be if industry members, growers, wholesalers, supermarkets, retailers alike grab this baton and run with it. President Obama declared March as Women’s History Month in 2011. Google unveiled its first Women’s Day Google Doodle in 2012. Beyonce posted a special Women’s Day video on YouTube in 2014. The SAF created marketing materials to promote the holiday to consumers, and J Schwanke promoted Women’s Day via his online platform as a way to get flowers into people’s lives every day.

Our industry, thanks to the work of Sun Valley, has a beautiful opportunity to increase sales and improve consumption by recognizing 50% of our population. Let’s go!

Gay Smith

Technical Consulting Manager

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