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Consumer Floral Usage for "Home Decoration" Slumps in Recession, But Consumer Demographic Trends Signal a Re-Bound

Insight from the Updated Prince & Prince Consumer Research Seminar  

NOTE: Updated consumer floral-purchasing trends are available in the Prince & Prince U.S. Consumer Floral Tracking Survey, now available as a one-day, on-site, comprehensive seminar, with Q&A session, or as a "Seminar on Flash".   


Dr. Thomas L. Prince

Dr. Timothy A. Prince

Prince & Prince, Inc.

Columbus, OH USA



Release Date: September, 2012




Floral Usage for “Home Decoration” Slumps in Recession, But Consumer Demographic Trends Signal a Re-Bound

 Insight from the Updated Prince & Prince Consumer Floral Research Seminar

 Drs. Tom & Tim Prince, Prince & Prince, Inc.

 Special Note:  This feature article is based on new research findings excerpted from the updated Prince & Prince (P&P) Seminar, “The U.S. Consumer Floral Tracking Survey”.   The “Home Decoration” purchasing metric is just one of over 100 metrics highlighted in the P&P seminar.   P&P thank Smithers-Oasis for their financial support in making this 2010 research update possible, providing benefit for the entire floral industry.  

Expanding consumer usage of fresh floral product for home décor is a goal for many members of the floral industry, from floral breeders, to growers, suppliers, importers, and wholesalers, and to retail florists and floral mass marketers.   Home Decoration with fresh floral has the potential to “smooth” the consumer demand profile for floral, potentially filling in the “valleys” between key floral holidays throughout the year.   While the industry often has statistics available for measuring consumer floral purchasing for key holidays, there is generally scant market information available for non-holiday floral consumption, such as consumer usage for Home Decoration.  In addition, the deep 2008 recession, and resulting sluggish economy now poses new challenges for companies throughout the floral-supply chain for year-round floral sales, increasing the need for this market information.

In this reporting, Prince & Prince (P&P) shows an historical profile of consumer household floral purchasing for Home Decoration, findings from the updated P&P seminar (see About the P&P Seminar  in the Appendix).  In addition to revealing salient consumer floral purchasing trends, P&P also provides commentary on those research findings.   The home décor purchasing metric is just one of over 100 purchasing metrics collected in the P&P consumer research, and presented in the P&P on-site seminar, and the P&P “Seminar on CD” (see Table 1 for seminar topics).   The consumer floral-purchasing data, collected at three time-intervals over the past decade, year 2000 (boom period), 2007 (just before the 2008 U.S. recession), and year 2010 


(after the recession) shows how the recent recession has impacted floral purchasing for various holidays, occasions, and events, including purchasing for Home Decoration.   In addition, segmentation data from the P&P survey identifies emerging consumer demographic trends that drive floral purchasing for Home Decoration in spite of the recession.   A fuller understanding of these consumer demographic trends for home décor purchasing will likely assist the floral industry in re-building these year-round floral sales.


Floral Purchasing for Home Decoration Slumps in U.S. Recession

Figure 1 reveals that across 1,280 randomly-selected floral-buying households nationwide in 2010, 36% had purchased one or more floral products for Home Decoration throughout the year (see definition of “incidence of purchasing floral” in Appendix).   This compares to a higher household purchase incidence of 39% and 41% in year 2007 and 2000, respectively.  The three percentage-point decline in floral purchase incidence between 2007 and 2010 was statistically significant, and extends the prior smaller decline from 2000 to 2007.   Across the past decade (from 2000 to 2010), floral purchasing for Home Decoration has declined 5 percentage points, representing a 12% drop in household purchase incidence for Home Decoration.  

From P&P floral market research, P&P estimates that in 2010, about 75 million households in the U.S. were floral-buying households, making one or more floral purchases throughout the year (contact P&P for details on this estimate).   Thus, P&P projects that nearly 27 million households bought fresh cut flowers and/ or indoor potted flowering and foliage plants specifically for Home Decoration in 2010.    And while this incidence of floral purchasing has waned somewhat prior to and since the 2008 recession, Home Decoration is ranked the seventh highest in incidence of purchase in 2010, among the 24 holidays, events and occasions measured in the P&P consumer floral research.   These purchasing estimates also suggest that the floral industry has only “scratched the surface” of the floral home décor market opportunity in the U.S., but a “reversal of trend” is ultimately required to seize that market opportunity.

Specific Consumer Groups Drive Home Décor Purchasing Dynamics

To identify specific consumer groups that drive floral purchasing for Home Decoration in spite of the U.S. recession, P&P segmented the overall survey findings by ten household demographic characteristics (demographic metrics shown in Appendix, Table 2).   As was shown in P&P’s prior report on consumer Valentine’s Day floral purchasing (http://www.floralmarketresearch.com/valentine%27s_day.htm), and also in this report on floral purchasing for Home Decoration, specific consumer groups lead the floral purchasing dynamics.   In this reporting, P&P highlights three key characteristics that largely influence household floral purchasing for Home Decoration: the level of annual household floral spending, age of householder, and level of market urbanization. P&P discusses these research findings of consumer Home décor purchasing, and their implications for the industry in re-building the U.S. floral market.

Biggest Floral Buyers Lead Home Décor Purchasing Re-Bound

Consumer usage of floral products for Home Decoration varies significantly by the level of annual household floral spending (Figure 2), from a low of 24% incidence of purchase for the minimal floral buyers (spending $50 or less annually on floral products) in 2010, to a high of 65% for the biggest floral buyers (spending over $500 annually).    For these big floral buyers, there was a large re-bound in the incidence of purchase for Home Decoration in 2010 (nine percentage point increase), compared to 2007 levels.   For this high spending group, their purchase likelihood for Home Decoration is now just a couple percentage points away from the highest level measured in the P&P consumer tracking research, during the boom period of 2000.  In addition, 


the next highest floral spending group (between $251 and $500 annually), also revealed a five-percentage point gain in floral-purchase incidence for home décor in 2010, over 2007 levels.

While the home décor spending re-bound among the biggest floral buyers is a very positive signal for an ensuing market re-bound overall for this floral category, the challenge now for the floral industry is the continual decline in purchasing among more moderate floral buyers, those spending between $51 and $250 annually on floral products.   For those spending between $101 to $250 annually on floral products, their purchase incidence for Home Decoration declined nine percentage points, from 45% in 2007, to 36% in 2010, and those spending between $51 to $100 annually dropped their home décor purchasing seven percentage points, from 35% in 2007 to 28% in 2010.   However, minimal floral buyers, those spending $50 or less annually on floral products, defied the broader downward market trend for Home Decoration.   Minimal floral buyers have made small, but steady gains in floral purchasing for Home Decoration, from 21% purchase incidence in 2000, to 24% in 2010.

Industry Challenge Is to Re-Engage Young Consumers with Floral Products

Figure 3 profiles the consumer household incidence of floral purchase for Home Decoration by age of householder.  While the 2010 usage trends for each age group are generally down from the boom period of 2000, the youngest household age group (under 35) currently maintains, by a slight margin, the highest incidence of floral purchase for Home Decoration (40% in 2010), compared to other age groups.    However, floral usage for Home Decoration by this younger age group in 2010 was still down 12 percentage points from the high of 52% registered in 2000, the highest of any age group.

This historical perspective is important to the floral industry, for it reveals that when younger consumer households had more disposable income, largely due to the Y2K computer and web boom, and U.S. economic prosperity in general, more younger households  (on a percentage basis) purchased floral products for Home Decoration by a wide margin, compared to other age groups.   (P&P’s 1996 purchase incidence for Home Decoration was 46% for those aged under 35).   

Thus, if an economic recovery is on the horizon, and especially if the recovery includes younger consumers, the P&P research provides market evidence that floral usage for Home Decoration may rise substantially for this age group.  With economic recovery, the challenge for the floral industry will be in engaging the “new” under 35 age group with floral products and services that will be as successful (or more successful) as was accomplished by the industry in 2000.

The historical floral usage trends shown in Figure 3 also reveal the potential “staying power” of an identified floral trend.    For example, the high floral usage for Home Decoration for the youngest households, identified in the 2000 survey, was likely maintained by those buyers through 2007, denoted by a relatively high 47% usage for Home Decoration by the next-oldest age group (aged 35 to 44) in P&P’s later consumer survey conducted in 2007 (the young consumers of 2000 aged and “migrated” into the older age group in 2007).   However, after the 2008 recession, the 2010 home décor purchasing revealed no obvious “bump up” for the next oldest age group (aged 45 to 54), suggesting that the U.S. recession effectively suppressed the migration effect (see reporting of age and co-hort effects in Appendix).

A key benefit of the P&P research is the possible identification of high floral-usage consumer segments for specific holidays, events, and occasions, such as Home Decoration.   Many in the floral industry would likely agree that it is important for the industry to target age-appropriate floral products to their respective age groups.   However, the age-group trends shown in Figure 3 indicate that identifying and targeting high-usage home décor age groups is a more difficult task in 2010, than it was in 2000.   For 2010, three of the highest-usage age groups do not differ in their floral usage by more than two percentage points, but the younger age groups show historical significance.

City/ Town and Suburban Markets Maintain Home Décor Floral Purchasing

Across the past decade (2000 to 2010), higher levels of market urbanization, going from rural markets to city/town markets (population of 50,000 or less), and to metropolitan areas, is related to a higher incidence of household floral purchasing for Home Decoration (Figure 4).   For 2010, about 44% of floral-buying households in suburbs of metropolitan areas purchased floral product for Home Decoration, compared to only 26% for those in rural/ country markets.   Consumer households in city/ town markets and those in suburbs of metropolitan areas largely maintained their level of floral purchasing for Home Decoration in 2010, compared to 2007 levels, but purchasing in both years was somewhat less than in 2000.  

For 2010, significant declines in household floral purchasing for Home Decoration were registered in rural/ country markets, and for those in central cities of metropolitan areas, compared to purchasing in 2007.  Rural/ country markets declined seven percentage points (2010 vs. 2007), while central cities of

metropolitan areas declined 10 percentage points.   These rather large purchasing declines for floral home décor purchasing likely pose some challenges for retailers and floral suppliers that operate in, and/ or service those specific urban markets.


The newly updated P&P Seminar, “The U.S. Consumer Floral Tracking Survey,” presents the floral industry with an historical profile of consumer floral purchasing trends for more than 20 holidays, events, and occasions, and for more than a dozen floral-product categories.   This market information can be used by members of the industry to help re-build the U.S. floral market, holiday by holiday, occasion by occasion, and through no occasion at all (everyday self-usage of floral product).   This reporting revealed specific consumer groups that drive the home décor purchasing dynamics of floral-buying households, identifying opportunities for expanding these year-round floral sales.

While household floral purchasing for Home Decoration has declined about 12% over the past decade (from 2000 to 2010), the segmented consumer findings show that the biggest floral buyers now lead a re-bound in floral purchasing for Home Decoration.   During brighter economic times, households under the age of 35 have piloted the purchasing gains for Home Decoration, and a re-bounding economy may also stimulate a resurgence in purchasing among these younger floral buyers.   In addition, city/ town and suburban markets throughout the U.S. have largely maintained floral purchasing levels for Home Decoration, in spite of the recession.   Collectively, these market trends signal a general re-bound in floral purchasing for Home Decoration for the broader consumer market in the U.S. 


Afterword.   The information presented in this article was obtained from the updated P&P Seminar, “The U.S. Consumer Floral Tracking Survey”.   P&P now makes available this updated seminar to members of the floral industry and allied trade with three presentation options: 1) a one-day, on-site seminar presentation, 2) a half-day, “Highlights Only” on-site seminar presentation, and 3) the complete presentation on CD, the “Seminar on CD” only option (about 800 slides, but no on-site presentation; see attachment for CD order form).   Both on-site seminar options include the complete presentation on CD for future reference.  The on-site seminar and the “Seminar on CD” covers the complete consumer floral tracking research for the years 2000 (boom period), 2007 (just prior to the U.S. recession), and 2010 (after the recession), revealing numerous “stories” about emerging U.S. floral-market trends, the changing floral channels, and the opportunities that are currently unfolding for the industry.  Contact P&P for on-site seminar fees & scheduling.

Related Links:  The P&P Consumer Seminar: http://www.floralmarketresearch.com/details.htm

P&P Seminar Offerings: http://www.floralmarketresearch.com/seminars1.htm 



About the P&P Seminar.   The Prince & Prince (P&P) seminar is based on survey market data from the P&P U.S. Consumer Floral Tracking Survey.   This survey has been conducted periodically since 1996, and tracks consumer floral purchasing at various floral outlets in the United States.   The survey is administered by first-class mail with a monetary incentive, and is completed by over 1,000 randomly-selected floral-buying households throughout the U.S.  (P&P does NOT use agency panels or on-line polls), thus the survey provides a highly reliable and valid probability-based sample of U.S. floral-buying households for identifying and projecting floral-market trends.   In the survey, consumers identify the types of floral products that they purchases (over a dozen cut flower and potted plant products surveyed) and reveal the holidays, events, and occasions of floral purchasing.    Consumers then evaluate the floral offerings, services, outlet perceptions and image of up to three floral outlets where they make their floral purchases (over 30 attribute measures for each outlet used).   Collectively, the P&P consumer research answers the following: Who are the floral consumers of today?  What are they buying?  How much are they spending?  Where are they buying?  Why are they buying?  How are the specific floral outlets performing? - - their strengths & weaknesses?  In what areas should florists, supermarkets, and other floral mass-market outlets focus to gain more floral sales?   And how has all of this changed since the 2008 recession?  

The P&P consumer surveys obtain a random selection of over 1,000 floral-buying households throughout the U.S., with 1310, 1065, 1,208, and 1,280 households responding to the survey in 1996, 2000, 2007, and 2010.   For ease of reporting, P&P has restricted the data exposition in this Home Decoration report to consumer surveys conducted over the past decade only (year 2000, 2007, and 2010 surveys), dropping the more dated 1996 data from the reporting.   Smithers-Oasis, N.A., was the key sponsor for the P&P consumer survey conducted in the late Summer/ Fall of 2010.  

Research Methods Used by Prince & Prince.   In the P&P consumer surveys, P&P measures the household incidence of floral purchasing for 24 holidays, occasions, and events, including those floral purchases made specifically for Home Decoration.   P&P defines floral purchasing as the purchasing of fresh cut flowers (arrangements, bouquets, roses, bunches, “stems-to-arrange” (do-it-yourself), and corsages) and/or indoor fresh potted plants (flowering plants, foliage plants, and dish gardens/planters), not outdoor bedding/garden plants.    By household purchasing incidence for Home Decoration, P&P means the purchase of one or more floral products by the household for Home Decoration during the study year.   P&P shows the purchasing incidence as the percentage of floral-buying households that made a floral purchase for Home Decoration for the specific survey years.

In the presentation of survey findings, P&P shows consumer purchasing data from the most recent 2010 P&P national consumer survey, and also makes comparisons with prior P&P surveys conducted in 2007 and in 2000.   This allows P&P to identify trends in consumer floral purchasing across the past decade for Home Decoration.   The P&P survey also collects ten consumer demographic measures that are used in segmentation analyses, including consumer age, income, education, urbanization, U.S. region, household composition, and annual level of household floral spending (Table 2).

In this article, P&P highlights historical household floral purchasing trends for Home Decoration, and shows these purchasing trends across several demographic segments.   In the data charts, an asterisk ( * ) next to a study year denotes a statistically significant trend across the particular demographic characteristic for that year.   An asterisk next to a particular demographic category (e.g. annual floral spending of $101 to $250) denotes a significant trend between 2007 and 2010 for that demographic category.

Age & Co-Hort Effects.   When analyzing the household age demographic over time, purchasing behaviors of specific consumers in an age group may “migrate” to the next older age group, when comparisons are made from earlier tracking surveys to more recent tracking surveys.   In marketing, this migration is termed the “co-hort” or generation effect, studying the effects of consumer groups that share common life experiences (e.g. computer/web revolution, economic boom, etc.) at specific times in their lives and their overall impact on purchasing patterns over time.

Accurately measuring these co-hort effects, however, was beyond the scope of the P&P consumer floral research, as P&P did not employ the unique research designs to explicitly delineate age, co-hort, and period effects in the consumer floral research (termed co-hort analysis).   For the purchasing trends shown in Figure 3, age, co-hort, and period effects are collectively confounded in the trends (as in most age & trend market research).   If co-hort effects are dominant, then young consumers of the future will be different from today’s young consumers, as new co-horts occupy the young age class.  If the age effect is dominant, then young consumers of the future will be similar to today’s young consumers, as consumers largely adopt the characteristics and behaviors of their specific age class.   It is currently an empirical question whether age effects or co-hort effects are dominant in consumer floral purchasing behavior assessed over time.   

About the Authors.    Drs. Tom and Tim Prince, formerly of The Ohio State University, are brothers and co-founders of Prince & Prince, Inc. (P&P), a leading marketing research specialist in the floral and green plant industries.    P&P has completed more than 50 major marketing research projects and reports for the floral and floral-related industries in the U.S., and has also conducted floral marketing research in Canada, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, and Spain.   P&P conceptualize, design, and implement market research projects and product tests for floral and green-plant suppliers, hardgood suppliers, floral importers, wholesale florists, retail florists, floral-industry associations, and companies serving the allied floral trade.    For more information about P&P marketing research & services, and their informative on-site seminars, and “Seminars on CD”, visit their web site at www.FloralMarketResearch.com.



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