Instead of Waiting for a Piece of the Pie- Let’s Find the Recipe!

by Cindy Hanauer

Cindy HanauerRetailers by trade are always looking for the biggest piece of the pie.  But the savviest retailers are searching for the pie recipe, then adding pie subcategories, and finally developing desserts that haven’t even been invented.  Savvy retailers know that commodity products become price-sensitive, while unique products can revel in their own pricing rules.      

But the key to building an organic product plan is starting at the most basic commodities and building on top of them. Regardless of the dessert, our customers still want to start with a “center plate” of tried-and-true products.  So, how does a wholesaler best sync up to their buyers’ product plan?

In keeping with the food theme (I must be hungry as I’m writing this), let’s start with a hamburger- the center plate. Sounds easy enough. The bottom bun depicts the financial plan and then the burger is laid on top of the bun. Think of the burger as our core staples (poms, roses, green, alstro, carns, gyp, etc.) laying on top of a good financial plan-the bun. 

But wait! Now, we get to the customization part. Cheese, no cheese? Bacon, no bacon? Onions? 

To answer these questions, a savvy retailer looks to new trends and new product reports such as the [i]2018 Floriculture Crops Report, started up again as a result of SAF’s voice on Capitol Hill. This report is the only source of annual data on annual bedding and garden plants, potted herbaceous perennials, potted flowering plants for indoor and patio use, foliage plants for indoor or patio use, cut flowers, cut cultivated greens, and propagative floriculture materials. There is a 2-year gap in the data (2016 and 2017) when the USDA could reportedly not fund the report, but there are still some fundamentals to glean from 2018’s comparison to 2015.

The 2018 wholesale value of U.S. floriculture crops is up 6 percent from the 2015 valuation. The total crop value at wholesale for all growers with $10,000 or more in sales is estimated at $4.63 billion for 2018, compared with $4.37 billion for 2015. The report also outlines an increase in farm footprint and labor, which indicates that that the sales growth was organic, and less likely a result of higher selling prices. The report also indicates a strong growth of domestic producers, which would additionally support the theory that most of the product growth was organic or “identical”, in nature. This is all good news and it’s a strong retail signal to build the burger “with everything”.  The customer is hungry.

  • Did you notice the 2018 increase in the cut greens category- up 27% from 2015? (Hint! Hint!) The greens trend continues in all aspects of the business from funeral work, suspensions, walls and wedding bouquets. Now we have real data to prove it!    

Now, about that pie. In a world where new dot.coms continue to wedge into the market, our uniqueness is paramount. The value of personal farm visits, hunting for new crops and sharing our wealth of “boots-on-the-ground” knowledge is paramount. The 2018 Floriculture Crops Report indicates a tremendous growth in garden plants, which means that customers are on the market for the extras-the dessert. 

In the retail world, there are many different types of “new” products:

  1. New to the World (meaning “really” new)
  2. New to the Company, such as new product lines
  3. New to the Line, meaning a new item added to an existing line
  4. New or Improved, meaning products that have been adjusted or refined  

As your sales team promotes “new” products, it may help to classify “new” in the same way that the retailer thinks of it. Also, think about an introductory sample. A free stem or bunch of a new product goes a long way, if there is regular follow-up afterwards. In the supermarket world, a food sample alone generates a sales increase of 600 percent. Food for thought. 

Resource: Floriculture Crops 2018 Summary (May 2019) 11 USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service

Follow-up Questions

  • Have you seen the Floriculture Crops 2018 Summary? If so, what stand-outs did you see?
  • Have you tried a sampling program? What were your results?
  • How do you keep the staple categories growing and the new products discovered?
  • What topics would you like to read about? Tell me here and I’d love to write about it!

[i] Floriculture Crops 2018 Summary (May 2019) 11 USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service


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