Why Don’t You Buy Flowers?


The floral industry is touting the results of yet another study that demonstrates the benefits of flowers.  There have been several of these studies, conducted in partnership with the Society of American Florists, over the last few years, including:

A Rutgers University study showing that flowers make people happy.  The study, which was published in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, compared the reactions of women who were given a bouquet of flowers, a scented candle, or a fruit basket.  (Huh.  A fruit basket.  Would you believe it–they liked the flowers best!) 

A Texas A&M study showed that workers were more productive if they had plants or flowers on their desk than they were if they had "an abstract sculpture" or nothing extra on their desk at all.

And now a new study, this one from Harvard, shows that people report less worry and anxiety, and more positive feelings like compassion and enthusiasm, when they were in the presence of flowers as compared to an undescribed "control home decor item."  (sorry, I haven’t been able to figure out what the  "control home decor item" was.)

Now, I understand the thinking behind these studies, I really do.  If only people appreciated the benefits of flowers, they’d buy more of them.   Seems logical, right?  After all, reports about the health benefits of olive oil, red wine, and chocolate have probably boosted sales of those products, right?  And they make good copy for press releases, generating a little positive flower PR in magazines and newspapers.

But I wonder–do these studies really address the reasons people don’t buy flowers–or don’t buy more flowers?  Are people really going around thinking, "You know, I’d buy some flowers, but I just don’t think the data supports it.  If only someone would do a study and convince me that flowers will make me happy, I’d go buy them."

Somehow I don’t think so.  At least–that’s now how it works for me.  Why do I buy flowers?  Lust.  Check out the photo above–an arrangement of flowers I made for a friend’s wedding–I look at those flowers and I am filled with pure, unadorned lust.  I just have to have them.

So fabulous flowers can sell themselves to me.  But what are the other factors that play into a decision to buy flowers–for yourself or as a gift–as compared to, say, a pizza or a bottle of Champagne or a book or concert tickets or a box of fancy chocolates or nothing at all? 

The floral industry is considering pooling its resources and spending $50 million on a national advertising campaign to get people to buy more flowers.  (Think about the "Got Milk?" campaign as a similar example.)  Maybe we can save them some money and just give it to ’em straight, right now.  Let’s start by asking the question this way–and if you want to elaborate on your answer, put it in the comments: