( Photo courtesy World Class Flowers )

How often have we been told we must stay ahead of the trends to be successful? But staying up to date in an industry that’s ever changing can be quite the daunting task! How do you stay aware of the changes as they are happening and how do you stay ahead of the curve? 

Floral buyers must ask themselves many questions:

  1. Where do I spot trends?
  2. Is this going to be big? 
  3. How do I jump on this trend quickly and how long should I ride it out? 
  4. And the big one: How do I get my stores on board and how do I get them to execute the program?

Let’s first determine how we spot a trend and where we can go to do this. One of the first things you should do is subscribe to trade and industry periodicals, Facebook pages or blogs. 

Now, subscribing is easy, but you must make the time to read and review them. How many of us have that stack of magazines on our desk marked with a mental “to do” note? Try to take the time to read these — maybe while having lunch or on a break. Staying up on what’s being talked about industry-wide is the first step to trend spotting.

What about consumer magazines and home and garden television programs? These images and colors are what your customers are seeing. If they are perceiving something as “new and hot,” then you need to be seeing it too. For you should be warned — they will be coming into your floral departments looking for these items to purchase, and you need to have those items there for them. 

It does not take a lot of time to spot a consumer trend. How about that magazine rack by the checkout at your local grocer? You needn’t read every magazine, but just glance at that rack carefully. Usually just looking at the covers can reveal a hot new trend. 

Are many of the covers featuring the same hue of a color (e.g. blue tones)? Are they featuring the same item in different ways (e.g. unicorn cakes in a baking magazine, unicorn pillows in a sewing magazine, unicorn bedroom décor for kids in a decorator magazine, etc.)? These are signs of a trend or color that has arrived or is on its way. This can also help you determine if this a shot in the pan or if this will be around for a while.

Once you have determined that this is a trend you want to support, then you need to get on it quickly. You always would like the bragging right of being one of the first, rather than lagging in last after your competition has been doing it for a while. 

Contact your favorite floral supplier and see if they are already on this (chances are that if they are a sharp supplier they are working on it already). See if they can develop something unique for you. Contact your plant, balloon, and hardgoods suppliers and see how they can help you put together a successful program that will catch the hearts and minds of your customers.

And then comes the biggest challenge … getting your store associates on board with these trends. If you don’t have the luxury of getting them “psyched up” during a meeting or a design show, then you must get them into it though your weekly communications or though Skype or video conferences. If you can’t get your team members excited about this trend, then they will never execute your vision correctly. Make them “own it.” 

Offer incentives or contests for best display or most sales. Post pictures of great merchandising on your company portal. Team up with other departments who can cross merchandise their products with yours to support this trend. Maybe get the store managers, or better yet, store ops behind your promotion. The more support you and your team receive the more successful and higher revenue earning your campaign will be.

But most importantly, your customers will see that you are up on the current trends and will look to you and your associates as professionals and experts in our floral world. Having the respect of our consumers is the one thing we should all be striving for daily. Happy, knowledgeable customers = more profit dollars. 

Now go out there and catch a unicorn, a llama or a blue mermaid or two!

Robert De Bellis is design lead for product development with World Class Flowers.

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