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Trends in Consumer Floral Purchasing for  Valentine’s Day in a Post-Recessionary Economy  


 NOTE: An updated Valentine's Day 2024 YouTube presentation by P&P is available at the following link: 


Insight from the Prince & Prince U.S. Consumer Floral Tracking Survey  

Dr. Thomas L. Prince

Dr. Timothy A. Prince

Prince & Prince, Inc.

Columbus, OH USA


 Release Date: January, 2012


 Special Note:  This feature article is based on new research findings excerpted from the updated Prince & Prince (P&P) Seminar, “The US Consumer Floral Tracking Survey”.   The Valentine’s Day purchasing metric is one of over 100 floral metrics highlighted in the P&P seminar.   This P&P consumer research was sponsored by Smithers-Oasis, N.A.   P&P sincerely thank Smithers-Oasis for their support in making this 2010 research update possible, providing benefit for the entire US floral industry.  

Valentine’s Day is one of several key floral occasions in the US where consumers collectively express their emotions of love and affection for others, largely thru the purchase of fresh cut flowers and potted plants.   While this “floral holiday” has traditionally been one of the strongest floral sales occasions for retail florists and floral mass marketers, the deep 2008 recession and resulting sluggish economic climate in the US now poses new challenges for retailers and companies throughout the floral-supply chain for holiday sales, as well as for floral sales throughout the year.

In this reporting, Prince & Prince (P&P) shows an historical profile of consumer household floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day, findings excerpted from the updated P&P seminar, “The US Consumer Floral Tracking Survey” (see About the P&P Survey in Appendix).   The Valentine’s Day purchasing metric is just one of over 100 consumer floral-purchasing metrics collected in the consumer tracking research, and detailed with analysis in the P&P seminar (see Table 1 for seminar topics).   The consumer floral-purchasing data, collected at three time-intervals over the past decade (before the recent US recession, year 2000 and 2007, and after, 2010) reveals how the 2008 recession has impacted floral purchasing for various holidays, occasions, and events, including Valentine’s Day.   In addition, demographic data from the P&P survey identifies key and emerging trends that drive floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day in spite of the recession.   A fuller understanding of these consumer demographic trends will likely assist the floral industry in making this upcoming Valentine’s Day the best ever.  
























Floral Purchasing for Valentine’s Day is Largely Resilient to US Economic Woes

Figure 1 reveals that across 1,280 randomly-selected floral-buying households nationwide in 2010, 52% had purchased one or more floral products for Valentine’s Day (incidence of purchasing floral, cut flowers and/or indoor potted plants, see definition in Appendix).   This compares to a similar household purchase incidence of 51% and 52% in year 2007 and 2000, respectively.    As in the 2007 study, Valentine’s Day was ranked the third highest incidence of floral purchase among 24 holidays, events and occasions measured in the P&P consumer research (trailing Mother’s Day, and Birthday events).

The relatively high percentages of household floral purchasing across the three study periods indicates that Valentine’s Day is a very important holiday for the floral industry, as over half of all floral-buying households in the US make at least one floral purchase for this holiday.   From P&P market research, P&P estimates that in 2010, about 75 million households in the US 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 39 million households bought for Valentine’s Day in 2010.    And this relatively-high incidence of consumer floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day has not waned since the recession of 2008.    Notwithstanding, these purchasing estimates also suggest that the industry still has a way to go in fully penetrating the US market for Valentine’s Day before considering this holiday “topped out” from the demand side.

While Purchasing Incidence Remains Robust, Dollar Spending per Household Likely Slipped in 2010

The P&P Consumer Floral Tracking Survey does not collect individual floral transaction data, thus P&P cannot make precise estimates of household floral spending (US dollars) attributable to specific holidays, events, and occasions.  However, the P&P survey does capture annual household floral spending for households that have purchased floral for Valentine’ Day, and for those households that have not.   Thus, P&P is able to compute an estimate of “spending attributable to Valentine’s Day” for both 2007 and 2010, and calculate the percentage change from 2007 to 2010.   While there is likely some upward bias in calculating “attributable spending” estimates in this manner (contact P&P for details about this bias), the upward bias would likely be similar across both studies.   P&P’s key interest is in determining the percentage change in these estimates between 2007 and 2010, not the actual size of the estimates.   

For 2007, the P&P estimate of average household floral spending “attributable to Valentine’s Day” was $84, including all household members making a floral purchase, and with associated delivery/ service fees included.   For 2010, the average estimate was $67, a 20% slide from the 2007 estimate.   While the household spending estimates, on average, may appear somewhat “puffy” (likely due to the upward bias), the estimated 20% decline in household Valentine’s Day spending from 2007 to 2010 appears plausible.  Thus, while over one-half of US floral-buying households remained committed to making a floral purchase for Valentine’s Day in 2010, they likely did so with less dollars than in 2007.   However, the 2010 slippage in floral spending cannot be fully attributable to the 2008 recession, as the 2010 Valentine’s Day week-end date (Sunday) likely induced last-minute consumer purchasing, shifting some household floral buying to supermarkets and other floral mass-marketers for the week-end occasion, with availability of generally lower-priced floral products compared to more traditional florist outlets.   With the upcoming Valentine’s Day falling on a Tuesday, traditional florist outlets may fare much better in 2012.

Specific Consumer Groups Drive Floral Purchasing Dynamics

To identify specific consumer groups that drive floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day in spite of the recession, P&P segmented the overall survey findings by ten household demographic characteristics (demographics shown in Appendix, Table 2).   In this reporting, P&P highlights two key demographic characteristics that largely increase household floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day: age of householder, and presence of teenagers in the household.   P&P also discusses analytics revealed in the P&P seminar related to annual household income and annual household floral spending, and their impact on consumer purchasing for Valentine’s Day.

 Younger Consumers and “Mature Romantics” Lead Purchasing Trends

Valentine’s Day floral purchasing varies significantly by age of householder, and younger-aged consumers show a much higher incidence of floral purchase (Figure 2).   As was shown in the P&P 2000 and 2007 studies, consumer households under the age of 35 again show the highest relative incidence of floral purchase for Valentine’s Day in 2010 (59%), compared to the other age groups.    These findings brings into bold relief the fact that Valentine’s Day is one of the key occasions to involve young consumers, and likely new floral buyers, with fresh floral products.











The 2010 P&P research also reveals a new purchasing trend emerging for consumers aged 55 and older, a relatively large group which includes part of the US “baby boomer” generation.   For these more mature consumers, floral-purchasing incidence is now increasing for Valentine’s Day.   In fact, the “65 & Older” age group showed a strong, statistically significant ten percentage-point gain in purchasing incidence for 2010 compared to the 2007 data (a 30% increase).   And the slightly younger “55 to 64” age group is also now trending in the same upward direction.   P&P terms this emerging Valentine’s Day demographic trend, “Mature Romantics” (the P&P seminar offers numerous data-grounded explanations for these consumer floral purchasing trends).   Overall, the P&P consumer research identifies “recession-buster” opportunities for Valentine’s Day at both ends of the consumer age spectrum, with opportunities for distinct floral products targeted at younger and older (age 55 & up) segments, thus broadening the Valentine’s Day floral offering.  

Teenagers within the Household Compound Floral Purchasing

As was shown in the 2007 P&P study, the presence of teenagers within the household again had a dramatic impact on increasing household floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day 2010 (Figure 3).   For 2010, almost 20% of all floral-buying households in the P&P survey reported teenagers within the household.   For floral-buying households without teenagers, Valentine’s Day purchase likelihood was 50% in 2010.   However, with teenagers present within the household, the floral purchase likelihood jumps thirteen percentage points to 63%.    This represents a greater than 25% gain in floral purchase likelihood for Valentine’s Day due to teenagers within the household.   This strong increase in Valentine’s Day floral purchasing attributable to teenagers has been maintained since 2000, when the P&P survey first initiated measurement of teenager membership within the household, and the increase in purchasing has been largely maintained through the 2008 recession.   This durable purchasing trend again exemplifies the importance of broadening the Valentine’s Day floral offering with age-appropriate floral products, expanding upon the floral demand trends revealed with the householder age findings.













Lower Incomes Generally Expand Purchasing, But Higher Incomes Contract

The P&P seminar findings detail the effects that specific household income and floral spending levels have on the likelihood of consumer purchasing for Valentine’s Day (as well as for the 20+ other holidays, events, and occasions, and for over a dozen cut-flower & potted plant categories measured in the P&P consumer research).   With this consumer purchase-trend information, the floral opportunities for Valentine’s Day up and down the income and floral-spending “ladders” are clearly identified.   These demand trends have implications for the development of new product strategies, and possibly new channel strategies, for capturing “Valentine’s Day Cupids” in specific income and floral-spending groups.

As an indicator of the consumer demand dynamics for Valentine’s Day, the seminar findings revealed a significant increase in household floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day in 2010 among the lowest income earners (household incomes under $25,000).    In addition, Valentine’s Day floral purchasing trended upward for the next highest income group, those earning between $25,000 to $50,000 annually.  However, for the top three household income groups, collectively those with household incomes over $50,000 (and with higher purchasing levels), the incidence of purchasing for Valentine’s Day 2010 showed mixed or declining trends.  One higher income group re-bounded in 2010, while the other two declined.   The P&P seminar findings reveal the swings in Valentine’s Day floral purchasing attributable to the recession for each income and floral-spending group, and those swings were somewhat more volatile for the higher income and higher floral-spending groups.


The newly updated P&P Seminar, “The US Consumer Floral Tracking Survey,” presents the US floral industry with an historical profile of consumer floral purchasing trends for numerous holidays, events, and occasions, and for more than a dozen floral-product categories.   This reporting highlighted consumer floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day, with metrics captured before and after the 2008 recession.   For 2010, the incidence of floral purchasing for Valentine’s Day remained relatively strong and was largely resilient to the 2008 economic recession, although consumers likely traded down to lower-priced floral offerings, yet still made a purchase.   Now, in this post-recession era, the key “market story” for the floral industry is that younger-aged householders (under age 35), households with teenagers, the mature segment over the age of 55, and lower-income households collectively drive the floral-purchasing dynamics for Valentine’s Day.    How the floral industry adapts to and exploits these demographic purchasing opportunities, and meets the challenges inherent in serving these more unique market segments will largely determine whether Valentine’s Day continues to remain a key purchasing holiday for the industry.   


Afterword.   The information in this article was obtained from the updated P&P Consumer Seminar, “The US Consumer Floral Tracking Survey”, which P&P now offers to members of the floral industry.  The on-site seminar covers the complete consumer floral tracking research, revealing numerous “stories” about emerging US floral-market trends, the changing floral channels, and the opportunities that are currently unfolding for the industry.  Contact P&P for seminar fees and 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 Survey.   The Prince & Prince (P&P) US Consumer Floral Tracking 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 US  (P&P does NOT use agency panels or on-line polls), thus the survey provides a highly reliable and valid probability sample of US 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 US, 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 Valentine’s Day 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 Valentine’s Day.   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, P&P means the purchase of one or more floral products by the household for Valentine Day during the study year.   P&P shows the purchasing incidence as the percentage of floral-buying households that made a floral purchase for Valentine’s Day 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 consumer surveys conducted in 2007 and in 2000.   This allows P&P to identify trends in consumer floral purchasing across the past decade for Valentine’s Day.   The P&P survey also collects ten consumer demographic measures that are used in segmentation analyses, including consumer age, income, education, urbanization, US region, household composition, and annual level of floral spending (Table 2).  















In this article, P&P highlights historical household floral purchasing trends for Valentine’s Day, 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. income of $25,000 or less) denotes a significant trend between 2007 and 2010 for that demographic category.

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 US, 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, visit their web site at FloralMarketResearch.com.



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