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5 Ways to Resonate with Gen X

by | Nov 10, 2021 | Floral Industry News | 0 comments

City Line Florist uses a variety of products to appeal to younger customers looking for fresh ideas for table centerpieces, gifts and home displays. Photos courtesy of Nicole Palazzo.

A recently published study by researchers at the University of Georgia and released by The Floral Marketing Fund emphasized that retail florists must speak to a variety of ages and should tailor their messaging to reach each generation.

The study, which involved two separate surveys of a combined 9,000 U.S. consumers, found that Gen X and Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to purchase cut flowers within the next year, give flowers for gifts and pair bouquets with other products. They also are interested in non-traditional flowers, events and are most likely to find a florist online through social media or web searches.

Here are five tips to attract younger customers based on those findings.

Hire the Vibe You Want to Project

Nicole Palazzo is a fourth-generation florist at her family’s 103-year-old shop, City Line Florist, in Trumbull, Connecticut.  “I am constantly looking for new ways to keep it fresh and grab the attention of the younger generation at an ‘old school business,’’’ says Palazzo, who is a founding member of  the Society of American Florists’ Next Gen peer group, which was established to help Millennials network.

At In Bloom Florist in Orlando, Florida, Sally Kobylinski said her “secret weapon” is hiring a Millennial to run her marketing department.  Kobylinski, 58, is at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, and while she is active on social media and works to keep up with the trends, she was adamant that anyone in charge of marketing for her shop should be of a different generation than her to ensure that her business continues to grow and succeed. Not only has this helped with online marketing, but she said it has influenced how she thinks about her store.

“It’s about establishing a different vibe in the store. wants there to be an Instagram-worthy space,” Kobylinski says. “We have a big backdrop that says, ‘In Bloom’ in neon. It looks great in a photo.”

Engage with Local Influencers

Both City Line and In Bloom pay close attention to local influencers, aiming to not only grab their attention but also partner with them on everything from events to giveaways.

Before posting on social media — and Instagram in particular — Palazzo says she is sure to comment on a lot of local pages. She isn’t just posting but really participating in the community, including actively engaging with the high school and college pages and keeping an eye on popular local individuals who have a lot of followers.

In Bloom connects with smaller, local influencers to drive up their own visibility among those active on social media and grow their customer base. By offering lots of competitions and giveaways in partnership with influencers, Kobylinski says they’ve gained new followers.

“You’d be surprised at the power of what a low-cost bouquet giveaway can do and how many followers you can get from it,” she says.

Friday Deals

Another popular trick for creating experiences that appeal to young customers are a twist to the open-house or after-hours events. In Bloom and City Line have each established regular Friday events to attract a younger crowd by offering discounted bouquets.

By hosting a happy hour every Friday, where cut flowers are half price all day, City Line has captured a key Millennial audience identified in the Floral Marketing Fund study: those who are budget conscious but also care about vase life and flower origins.

“They like to come in to make bouquets for themselves, to play with at home and also as gifts,” Palazzo says. “I think because of the affordable price and the wide variety of flowers we carry it gets the younger gen hooked. They learn about the flowers we offer and how long ours last. This helps retain them.”

Offer Pairings

Bundles or add-on sales should be promoted online and inside the store, both Palazzo and Kobylinski say.

Beyond the traditional pairings such as balloons and chocolates, Palazzo says the shop is sure to offer bath bombs, candles and plant food. Anything floral related also sells well, including ‘Flower Power’ print notebooks and glassware, and floral necklaces. “When we sell a green plant, it almost gets an add on sale like a nice decorative Accent Decor container, plant food we carry and or a cute little watering can,” she says.

In Bloom frequently does a wine pairing offering a bouquet and a bottle of Merlot, or other type of wine.

Kobylinski has taken the idea of pairing gifts with flowers to the next level by inviting other local independent business owners with strong social media presences to her shop. By hosting these events for local painters, jewelers, soap makers, chocolatiers, and others to attend she reaches a larger audience because they attract their clientele to her store. The variety of products is appealing to Kobylinski’s existing customers, she says. It also supports her local business community, something Kobylinski says she is eager to do.

Follow the Floral Trends

Succulents. House plants. Toffee colored roses. All are trending on social media and popular items for younger clients.

The study also found that while older generations still buy traditional flowers for any given occasion — think a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day, lilies on Easter, and poinsettias for Christmas — younger customers are looking for fresh ideas for table centerpieces, gifts and home displays.

Offering — and marketing — these trends is vital. Rather than tall, full arrangements, offer small bouquets in a low cylinder, Palazzo suggested. Premium flowers like ranunculus, peonies, dahlias, and proteas are all on trend, she adds. Last Thanksgiving City Line started offering a tablescape package to help customers move away from a traditional centerpiece and embrace the popular trend of lots of smaller vases with flowers and candles.

Sarah Sampson is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.

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