The Survey Says:

A few weeks ago, I posted a survey asking why people don’t buy more flowers.  Let’s look at the results now that 100 people have voted in the poll.

51% said that they don’t buy flowers, or they don’t buy them more often, because they cost too much.   This, I know, will drive people in the flower business crazy.  At the supermarket, roses are selling for less than a dollar a stem.  A florist can deliver a beautiful arrangement for about fifty bucks, which is probably about what you’d spend for a nice gift anyway.  There’s a flower for every price range. So why do we think that they cost too much?  Looking at the comments posted in response to the survey, I know one answer:  to a gardener, flowers are free–sort of.   No sane gardener would ever add up how much they spend in the garden, and telling ourselves that we can have flowers or produce from our gardens for free is one way of justifying all that labor and money!

But I think the real answer lies in the second response.  14% said that flowers don’t last long enough.  And I think that is, in part, what the 51% who thought flowers were too expensive really meant:  they’re too expensive for what you get.  Fifty bucks for a room at the Four Seasons would be the deal of the century.  Fifty bucks for a night at the Motel 6 in Huntsville, Texas would feel like a rip-off.  So where do flowers fall in the deal-of-a-century/rip-off continuum?

If you buy halfway decent flowers, and take good care of them (see my Cut Flower Care sheet for some tips), you should be able to get a week’s worth of vase life out of them.  Let’s look at all the things you could buy for fifty bucks (or more) that don’t last a week:

  • Dinner out
  • Concert tickets
  • Champagne
  • Chocolates
  • Spa treatments
  • A night at a B&B

See my point?  OK, what else?  16% said the flowers just didn’t excite them.  This I can understand.  A stiff arrangement of roses and baby’s breath just does not make me swoon.  Restaurants have to keep up with culinary fashions to keep their customers coming back–if wild mushrooms are all the rage, you’d better get some on your menu.  So why is anyone still making a bouquet of ferns and mums and carnations?

6% said that the process of buying flowers was too difficult or cumbersome.  That’s a small percentage, really, but I wonder how much order gatherers can be blamed.  What about crowded, fussy shops filled with lace and fragile figurines that make men feel uncomfortable?

And finally, 13% said they’d rather buy something else.   Fair enough, I suppose.  We can’t all be flower lovers.   But let me say this to all of you "I’d rather buy something else" types:  I can’t even begin to count the number of times that some male friend or relative has said, "I have no idea what to get my wife for her birthday."

And I say:  Hello?  What about flowers?  She loves flowers!

And he replies:  Oh, I’m not buying flowers.  They’re just going to die.

Well, sure, they’re going to die–after she puts them on her desk or her dresser and spends a week loving them and thinking of you every time she looks at them and telling all her friends about the beautiful flowers you bought and maybe even taking a picture of them so she can remember them.  Yes, after that, they will die.  So–uh–what’s the problem?

Well, there you go.  This is a perpetual concern in the flower industry.  How can they get people to buy more flowers?  If I had the answer, I’d open a flower shop.  But it sure is interesting to ask the questions.

9 thoughts on “The Survey Says:”

  1. I fall into too expensive for the time they last category. I buy them every so often to perk myself up or brighten up the house for company. I definitely cannot afford to do this every week. Maybe once a month if I switch foods something to generic storebrand. But there’s only so much budget to go around.

  2. I fill my house with cut flowers for three seasons, not only for the usual reasons, but also to bring my garden indoors so I can enjoy it more. There is no personal attachment to florists’ flowers. I also like to create unusual arrangements and collect unusual vases for that reason. If the florists were a tad bit creative, I might be tempted. I did find one outrageously expensive florist who meets this criteria and I will order from that firm for special occasions.

  3. I always find surveys facinating on flower buying trends. After spending several years in the floral industry as an editor of a trade magazine, I’ve learnt that the industry needs to reach out to the consumer and tell them why they should buy flowers and why they should buy them from retail florists, as opposed to mass merchants and grocery stores. Flowers are a luxury item that most of us like to indulge in, just like chocolate or a grey label bottle of Wolf blass. It’s something out of the ordinary, and in a world filled with routine and scheules, bringing flowers home to your wife or husband is a true celebration of passionate spontaneity.

  4. From a flower farmer/florists perspective I found this survey interesting – particularly as it taken among a self selecting group which is likely to have a general interest in gardening.
    It is very easy to undervalue the things that you have – to feel that flowers are overpriced when cut because you see them growing outside in your own garden.
    I know that everyone I have ever delivered flowers to has been so excited and delighted to receive them. Much more so, I expect, than if it was a sensible lasting present like an african violet.
    This is why I think it is worth sending flowers as a gift.

  5. I never buy myself cut flowers.
    I look…
    Everytime I pass a bunch of sunflowers I slow down and think about buying, but never do. I love huge yellow lilies with the brown spots, Liatris and daisies, sweetpeas,red glads…those sunflowers
    Who buys me flowers?
    My Mom did on birthdays and when my children were born and once after surgery.
    My husband will surprise me occasionally but now seems to think I prefer something shiny.
    My children on Mom’s day…
    To whom have I given flowers?
    My Mom but she’s gone now.
    I didn’t know my daughter would like flowers but a boyfriend gave her bright orange lilies and she loved them.I feel bad I didn’t know that.I’m going to buy her flowers.Something Orange and showy.
    Sisters when they need cheering.
    A friend when she got a divorce.
    My neighbor just for fun,along with herbal tea and beignets.

  6. I have to say that if they made flowers last any longer than they do already, I would still not buy them.
    I think the idea of flowers is taken away when they are raised in greenhouses with perfect conditions, mass produced and all. The sponteneity of a bouquet of flowers falls down to the level of the shrink wrapped shower gel and soap baskets you can get at Walmart. Ooh! I’ll take a small posie of dandelions over a lush long lasting greenhouse bouquet any day!
    (are you reading this, boyfriend of mine?)

  7. In response to Taryn’s comments, I would suggest that she might consider visiting a greenhouse some day where she will see that contrary to her characterizations, commercially-grown flowers are not the cookie-cutter mass produced product she believes they are. Except for watering and fertilizing, most procedures are hand done, including pruning, harvesting, sorting, bunching and packing. Most growers would be happy for the perfect growing conditions that she says growers have. That isn’t the case. Growing flowers is a difficult task and the reason that flowers that she may have received appear ‘perfect’ is because the imperfect flowers are culled out either to be thrown away or sold to alternative markets.
    Flowers, whether grown in the back yard, or in a greenhouse, are still a wonder of nature and should be part of everyone’s life on a daily basis.

  8. My daughter has a Science project due and her experiment was to find out which would last longer- a bouquet of flowers that are cut each day or a bouquet that is only cut once. I thought the bouquet that was cut each day would last longer, but in our experiment, the bouquet that was cut once lasted longer. If you don’t mind, I need alittle info. on that since I do not have a green thumb. Thank you

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