Floral marketing the American way

Happily, the California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers (CalFlowers) team began 2023 by floating on cloud nine after winning a bronze medal in December for its ‘Flowers, Self Care Made Easy’ campaign which won a coveted Epica Award in the luxury and premium brands category.

The Epica Awards, judged by journalists, recognise the world’s best communication campaigns.

Steve Dionne, executive director of CalFlowers, says, “We were in the company of some of the globe’s most established brands, including Burberry and Louis Vuitton. We are very proud of the campaign in terms of what we’ve been able to accomplish on a reasonable budget.”

Steve Dionne, executive director of the California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers (CalFlowers).

Well-recognised benefits

And a year after its colourful and light-hearted ‘Flowers, Self Care Made Easy’ campaign first burst onto the floriculture scene, CalFlowers has relaunched this popular marketing initiative.
Dionne explains that the (seemingly long) month of January was an ideal time for CalFlowers to encourage Americans to indulge in a bit of self-care – the floral kind, that is.

“This was a prime opportunity to encourage people to cheer themselves up with fresh-cut flowers. And so, here we are, with our digital delivery in January, hoping to reach ten million more consumers.”
Given the well-recognised benefits that flowers can have on people’s mental health and overall wellbeing, the ‘Flowers, Self Care Made Easy’ campaign’s specific goal is to promote flowers as being part of someone’s weekly or everyday self-care routine.

A central part of the drive is a humorous video highlighting how buying oneself a colourful bunch of flowers is easier – and arguably more effective – than investing in the many (and arguably wacky) wellness activities that are out there.

All about aesthetics

Targeting women aged 25-39 who are interested in wellness and style, the initiative’s first run, in January 2022, continued for about three months. “Over that period, we went out on Instagram, YouTube, and on Spotify – a platform on which paid-for digital ads were featured alongside some of the world’s most listened-to podcasts.”

“These included those of former monk Jay Shetty, television personality Jonathan Ness from Queer Eye, and podcaster Alex Cooper’s Call Her Daddy – the second most popular podcast on Spotify,” says Dionne.
He adds: “We got a lot of exposure in a lot of different ways across several digital media platforms and considered it to be a very successful first run.”

A visual from CalFlowers award-winning ‘Flowers, Self Care Made Easy’ campaign.

The stats

Data analytics indicated that consumers exposed to the paid digital media ads had an eight per cent lift in intent to purchase fresh flowers. Through the various digital platforms that were utilised, the campaign had 60m impressions, and 48 million consumers were exposed to it.

“Eight per cent of 48 million is 3.84 million consumers who told us on online surveys that after seeing our campaign, they do intend to purchase fresh flowers in the next 30 days. That’s a massive consumer activation.”

This January’s relaunch has mainly been spread across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest. “Last year was our first run, and because we have learned from that first run, we can continue to become more and more effective in that social media space.”

Dionne adds: “In 2022, we didn’t do much on TikTok, for example, and so during the past few weeks, we’ve been running on infeed on TikTok for the first time – attracting some 20 different influencers.”

That Flower Feeling – A Unique Funding Mechanism

The ‘Flowers, Self Care Made Easy’ initiative is part of the new That Flower Feeling brand. This was set up by the That Flower Feeling Foundation – a non-profit organisation created by CalFlowers to fund direct marketing campaigns aimed at consumers in the United States.

Companies in every facet of the varied floriculture sector – including breeders, exporters, growers, wholesalers, retailers, and transporters – have been, and are continuing to be, invited to contribute to this fund voluntarily.

Recalling how it emerged, Dionne says: “Obviously, Covid was a global tragedy, but it positively impacted the floral industry. It brought new consumers to our industry – and everyone in our sector began to feel the increase in demand – which, in turn, changed the demand profile for fresh flowers. So, CalFlowers decided that we needed to ride this wave. It was the perfect moment to get out there and start marketing the industry to consumers.”

In November (2022), CalFlowers reunited with the floral stylists Ueli Signer and Florian Seyd from Amsterdam-based Wunderkammer, with whom they worked on the ‘Flowers, Self Care Made Easy’ video. Together they created a colourful trade stand for That Flower Feeling Foundation at the International Floriculture Trade Fair in Vijfhuizen, the Netherlands.

“We made connections with people all over the world,” Dionne notes – explaining that “Previously, our funding efforts had been focused on US-based companies, but we are keen to attract funding from companies that are integral to the US supply chain.”

So far, That Flower Feeling Foundation is supported by some 70 companies, including well-known brands such as Alexandra Farms, Chrysal, and Ball Horticultural Company.
“We’ve had just under two million dollars in terms of commitment from the industry, which is really good, and moving in the right direction.”

Standing out from the crowd

The current marketing initiative is set to run for a total of three years, and CalFlowers is busily developing That Flower Feelings’ plans for the rest of 2023.

“The last two years have been very strong and profitable for many companies in the industry, but clearly, 2023 is a more challenging business environment. Low staffing levels, increased energy prices, and difficulties in accessing the products that businesses need are all issues the sector is collectively dealing with. Demand has slowed a little, and it’s feeling like [it’s going to be] a challenging year. But here we are. In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, orders were strong.”

Arguably, the US floral industry is in a good position to cope with today’s trickier market conditions. Average US sales at retail flower shops are about $679,000 – a figure that is expected to grow by five per cent in 2023 and two per cent for the next few years. *

Dionne also highlights another positive: the growing trend for domestic flower farms that are popping up all over the US. “It’s exciting to see this entire culture develop – CalFlower’s membership growth has primarily been from this area. We are seeing some great business models come out of this trend, such as flower farms set up alongside wedding venues. It’s exciting to see fresh flowers being grown all over the country – and this trend is going to be very compelling for the younger generation.”

L-R: Joost Bongaerts, Jeanne Boes (both the co-Chairs of That Flower Feeling) and Steve Dionne. Joost Bongaerts is the President & CEO, of Florabundance, Inc. & Garden Roses Direct, and Jeanne Boes is the General Manager & COO of San Francisco Flower Mart. Jeanne is also the Vice President of CalFlowers, and Joost is a Director on the CalFlowers Board.

Making an impact

Dionne asserts that those who increase their marketing drives during times when others might be tempted to decrease their marketing spend will stand out from the crowd. To that end, he is encouraging growers, florists, and everyone else in the floral supply chain to help grow their businesses by downloading and utilising the free, high-quality marketing assets that are available on www.thatflowerfeeling.org

So far, nearly 300 floral companies have accessed these assets, including materials such as point-of-sale posters and truck wrap graphic designs and digital assets such as social media posts tailored for various formats, including this video below. Dionne concludes: “The marketing we do makes flowers relatable and fun – I think that’s really impactful.”

Floral spending in the USA: the essentials

❁ The amount spent on floral products from 2020 to 2021 grew 21.5 per cent to $46.6 billion. *
❁ Sales of US-grown floriculture crops grew 16 per cent from 2019 to 2021 – reaching $6 billion for the first time. *
❁ Annual bedding plants comprise more than a third of these sales, followed by perennial plants and potted flowering plants, with about $1 billion in sales each. Cut flowers comprise $360 million in sales, and cut greens are $105 million.*
❁ There’s been an eight per cent increase in the number of growers, and that number doesn’t include the significant increase in flower and plant growers doing less than $100,000 in annual sales.*
❁ Imports to the U.S. also increased. Since September 2022, there has been a 28 per cent increase in dollar volume and a 15 per cent increase in product volume of imported cut flowers, totalling $1.19 billion.*
* Credit: Society of American Florists, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the USDA, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis as reported in September 2022 by Produce News by the Society of American Florists.


This article was first published in the March 2023 edition of FloraCulture International.

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