Opportunities for horticultural sector in the commercial market

The market researchers of Royal FloraHolland Business & Market Intelligence have studied the commercial end consumer. Their insights are described in this report.

Flowers and plants are normally bought for a commercial setting to create an ambiance.

Flowers give festive touch to commercial present
The reason why the commercial end consumer buys flowers has three aspects:
  • Gift for employee
  • Promotional gift
  • Decorating office
The first aspect is the more important one for Dutch florists; almost all florists state that they sell many flowers to commercial customers as a gift for an employee. But the other two aspects stimulate approx. 90% of the commercial customers to buy flowers, so they are also important.

In a commercial setting, flowers are chosen as a gift for an employee or business relations because they bring a festive 'touch' along with ambiance, cheerfulness and colour.

'Health' aspect not a convincing reason
Plants are primarily bought in the commercial market as a decoration for the company. Not all commercial plant buyers are aware of the positive effects that plants have on employees; only a small proportion admits that their reason for buying plants is their influence on the welfare of staff or the improved performance of employees.

Commercial buyers of plants (and ones who don't buy them) were asked which effects of plants ('claims') they do not find plausible. Around one-third did not think that plants contribute to lowering the absenteeism rate of staff. But both groups consider an improvement of the air quality and humidity to be the most credible possibility.

Flowers not a permanent gift
One important barrier to choosing flowers as a gift for employees or business relations is that people feel they are not suitable for all target groups. Companies that do not buy flowers at the moment stated that their perishability is a limitation (you can't pick them up a long time in advance) and they are difficult to transport.

Companies that do currently buy flowers stated that they would like to give something else for a change once in a while and that flowers are perishable and not a permanent gift. Often gift certificates, edible products (like chocolate, bonbons and fruit baskets) or drink (alcoholic) are given as an alternative.

Florist an important link
The majority of commercial end consumers buy flowers themselves from the florist. In general, large companies (more than 20 employees) are less likely to go to the florist themselves and prefer to have the florist deliver them, and they order online as well. The mid-sized and large companies often have a subscription or contract with a florist. One-fifth of the mid-sized and one-quarter of the large companies has such a subscription or contract.

Almost half of the commercial end consumers do not experience any difficulty with purchasing flowers through their preferred sales channel. If there are problems, they concern the price, quality, limited choice (small assortment) and lack of variety ('always the same').

Management makes decisions
Within companies it is often the management that determines the amount spent to purchase flowers, as well as 'what and where' they are bought. This applies particularly to small companies (up to four employees). The larger the company, the more likely it is that someone other than management is responsible for these purchases: facility management, HR, secretary receptionist (especially 'what and where').

Commercial service provision is important sector
In the Netherlands, the commercial market is responsible for around one-quarter of the florist's revenue. Florists mostly sell flowers to their commercial customers, especially to companies in the educational and commercial service provision sectors. Plants are in the top 2 for sales to the commercial service provision sector, but retailers take first place.

Service providers spend the most in total on flowers and plants. The non-profit sector (government, education and healthcare) spends relatively a lot on flowers compared with the total number of companies/institutions in the Netherlands.

Source: Royal FloraHolland

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