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
- 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.