Freshness is the end-all and be-all of the floral department, industry experts agree. "Consumers don't remember how much they paid for flowers. What they do remember is whether or not they lasted a decent length of time," Tom Lavagetto, founder and president of The Floral Consulting Group, Spokane, Wash., is fond of saying.
Yet, who's to blame when a less-than-delighted consumer looks at a bunch of dying daisies two days after she brought them home? Most experts agree that it starts with the grower, but Lavagetto stressed it's the retailer's responsibility to demand change. It's well worth their while because floral could generate big profits for them, he said.
"Most supermarkets still don't take floral seriously. It's not just something pretty to have in the store. It's a business that can make them a lot of money. They should demand that their vendors make changes," Lavagetto said.
Even the frail flowers that do arrive at the supermarket are given short shrift, he said.
Since upper management, in most cases, doesn't think of flowers as a moneymaker, the word never reaches store level that they're important, Lavagetto said.
Another consultant, Terry Johnson, president of Horticultural Marketing Resources, Mission Viejo, Calif., also laid the blame at the feet of the supplier.
"Suppliers aren't doing what they have to do to ensure longevity. They do in Europe. If flowers lasted here, we'd sell more. We wouldn't even have enough."
He thinks supermarkets are putting their energy in the wrong place by pulling customers in with prices and false promises.
"[Guarantees] for flowers today represent the continuing problem we have of over-promising and under-delivering to consumers. We constantly give flowers a great build-up, only to have the actual experience become a letdown when they die in a couple of days. Changes have to be made [along the supply line] first. What if you guaranteed flowers would last five days and, in reality, they lasted 10? The consumer would be delighted."