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Research reveals how different ages buy flowers

May 7, 2009  By Amanda Ryder


Research reveals how different ages buy flowers
A new consumer research study reveals how different age groups perceive, buy, and use
flowers and floral outlets.

A new consumer research study by the Society of American
Florists (SAF) reveals how different age groups perceive, buy, and use
flowers and floral outlets, and will be used to help direct the floral
industry’s promotional messages. SAF’s Generations of Flowers Study,
completed in January, assessed three generations of consumers:
generation Y (ages 18-30), generation X (31-44), and baby boomers


The study methodology included interviews with generational and gift
giving research giants, Iconoculture and Roper; two online focus groups
of 57 individuals; and an online survey of 1,557 flower consumers. The report focuses on florists but sheds light on flower buyers and their intentions at garden centres as well.

Key Findings from SAF’s Generations of Flowers Study

Attitudes Toward Flowers

The research shows that most people value flowers, but they appear to
have more depth of meaning for older generations. When probed about why
they appreciate flowers, consumers are most likely to relate to the
sensory & emotional aspect of flowers, agreeing:

  • The color of the flowers adds to the impact of a gift (64%)
  • The sight and smell can improve my mood (60%)
  • Flowers are an emotional gift (56%)
  • Flowers make me feel special (56%)
  • The fragrance is important to me (53%)
  • Flowers have a high interpersonal resonance.

Consumers believe the gift of flowers signifies being caring (61%),
personal (58%), and sentimental (58%). Further, people who give flowers
as gifts are most likely to be perceived as thoughtful (77%) and
sincere (57%).

While many saw flowers as a traditional gift, this is not considered to be a negative, but a time-honored and valued custom.

Flowers and Gifting

While traditional gifting makes up a significant portion of the market
for flowers, “just because” gifting and purchases for the home are also

  • Flowers are the number one gift of choice for romantic
    situations and also housewarming parties. (Iconoculture interviews
    indicate a growing trend of hosting among gen Y.)
  • Buying flowers as a “present to myself” also accounts for a sizable number of purchases.

Flowers also appear to be a popular “second choice” for many other
gifting situations (such as an anniversary), perhaps presenting an
opportunity to position flowers as a complementary gift.

Flower Purchase Behaviour

Retail venues that provide convenience and low price options are most popular, especially among younger generations.

  • A higher percentage of consumers stated they typically
    purchase flowers at supermarkets (73% for themselves; 68% as a gift)
    versus a local florist shop (61% self, 64% gift).

Florists are respected and held to higher standards than other retail outlets.

  • Offering flower quality and freshness (76%), getting what you
    expect (76%), and flower longevity (70%) are all very important to
    consumers when shopping at a florist.

Although most consumers prefer to purchase flowers in person (67%) and
only one in eight prefer to purchase flowers online(12%), the Internet
plays an important role in the purchase process.

  • Of those who have used the Internet when purchasing flowers,
    a majority have gone online to see pictures of different arrangements
    (53%), to price flowers (45%), and to send flowers out of the area
  • This
    is an important marketing implication for local florists, as two in
    five (42%) consumers have used the Internet to find a local florist’s
    phone number or location, and one-third (32%) have gone online to find
    a local florist’s Web site.

Despite current economic conditions, more consumers indicate they will
purchase flowers as gifts more frequently than previous years (32%),
rather than less often (25%). The opposite is true when purchasing for
themselves (9% more often, 37% less often).

Generational Differences

Generation Y (Ages 18-30)

Compared to boomers and gen X’ers, gen Y consumers are significantly less likely:

  • To have a high appreciation of flowers or agree with other
    emotional aspects associated with the gift of flowers, such as the
    ability to lift one’s spirits. This indicates a pressing need for
    updating the image of flowers for this generation to allow for a higher
    level of personal resonance.
  • To
    see giving flowers as “personal” or to purchase flowers as a “personal
    pick-me- up." This suggests a relative lack of identification with
    flowers that must be addressed by the industry.
  • To
    differentiate florists from other retailers in terms of key attributes,
    such as quality and freshness. Only 1/3 of gen Y are knowledgeable
    about the best places to buy flowers, significantly lower than other
    generations. Florists are challenged to maintain their distinctiveness
    and value as a retail option among this generation.
  • To
    purchase mixed flowers and most likely to purchase individual flowers,
    including roses, tulips, lilies, daisies and orchids. This may indicate
    a new, individualized aesthetic relationship to flowers that could be

Gen Y is most likely:

  • To purchase flowers in person and deliver flowers
    themselves. This echoes a “personalization” trend in the gifting
    characteristics of this generation.
  • To
    purchase flowers to impress guests in their home significantly more
    than other generations. This indicates an opportunity to reposition the
    value of flowers for the younger consumer.

Generation X (Ages 31-44)

Gen X is the “in between” generation, often occupying the middle attitudinal and behavioral ground between gen Y and boomers.

Gen X tends to be more emotionally connected to flowers than gen Y,
although they are significantly less likely than baby boomers to have a
very high appreciation of flowers.

This generation strongly connects with the sensory aspects of flowers — including the color, sight and smell, and fragrance.

Gen X most likely purchases flowers as a traditional holiday/occasion
gift for someone else, as a “just because” pick-me-up gift, and for
home decoration.

Of the three generations, gen X is least likely to prefer purchasing
flowers in person (60% vs. 66% boomers and 74% gen Y). They are also
the generation most likely to prefer purchasing flowers over the
Internet. This fits with their timestarved and tech-savvy lifestyles.

Baby Boomers (Ages 45-60)

Baby boomers are significantly more likely than other generations to
have a high appreciation of flowers and are most likely to agree with
the other emotional aspects associated with the gift of flowers.

This group is significantly more likely to purchase mixed flowers and
significantly less likely to purchase specific types of flowers
including roses, tulips and lilies.

One-half of baby boomers use the Internet to send flowers outside of their area, significantly higher than other generations.

This generation is significantly more likely than other generations to
consider flowers when purchasing a gift and to find flowers appropriate
for a broad range of gifting situations.

Baby boomers can be more demanding: They consistently had the highest
expectations of florists and are most likely to view the cost of
flowers as a purchase barrier.

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