Safeway’s Crystal Hedgpeth to be honored for Blue Bucket campaign

US (CA): CCFC Names ‘2017 Flower Farm Champion’

Crystal Hedgpeth, floral sales manager for Safeway’s Northern California Division, had a problem. Year after year in surveys, customers gave the store low ratings for the availability of locally sourced items. And yet Hedgpeth knew Safeway was chock-full of local products, including the California Grown flowers that made up more than half of the flowers sold in the stores.

The thing is, her customers didn’t know.

Hedgpeth, a problem-solver with 24 years of experience in Safeway’s floral division, became a person on mission. She knew that 58 percent of customers prefer to buy locally grown flowers and that those flowers were right there in her stores. She also knew that Safeway was Northern California’s largest buyer of California Grown flowers.

What she needed was an attention-getting way to spread the word – and to support Safeway’s commitment to local farmers. And thus, the Blue Bucket Campaign was born.

NorCal Safeway customers can’t miss this blue bucket display when they walk into the store.

Hedgpeth determined that she could change the misperception about the “lack of local” by grouping all California blooms and foliage in a single display in the floral department to make a big statement. After several brainstorming sessions with her team, a broader vision emerged for bringing a California Grown flowers campaign to life. The team added a large “iron man” sign atop the display that included the CA Grown license plate logo and a locally sourced message. And Hedgpeth implemented her division president’s idea that all the buckets the flowers were displayed in be just as blue as the CA Grown logo.

“Once we had the merchandising done, it really made an impactful statement. The colors of the flowers were more vivid against the blue buckets,” Hedgpeth said.

And customers noticed.

Consumers are increasingly interested and concerned with the origin of their flowers. Crystal’s blue bucket campaign helps highlight to their customers their commitment to buying California Grown Flowers.

Safeway stores that implemented the Blue Bucket Campaign saw double-digit increases in sales of California Grown flowers – think 12 to 16 percent. And what started in October 2016 in fewer than 50 stores spread to all 280 Nor Cal stores by Valentine’s Day 2017. California Grown flower sales are up 14 percent.

In addition to individual flower varieties showcased in the blue buckets, Hedgpeth has since added California Grown mixed bouquets. And in stores where customers are particularly local-focused, she gets “hyper local” and sets up displays and signage for nearby flower farms.

Hedgpeth says the signature blue buckets have found a home in her stores.

“In our minds, this should be part of our permanent thinking. We’ll continue to support local flower farmers and even incorporate American Grown flowers. We want to continue to grow this. We have new stores coming in 2018 and 2019 and we’ll continue the campaign in those stores. As long as it’s relevant to customers, it’s relevant to us!”

For her efforts, Hedgpeth will be presented with the California Cut Flower Commission’s (CCFC) 2017 Flower Farm Champion Award on Dec. 8 at CCFC’s annual meeting in Santa Barbara.

Source: California Cut Flower Commission (Christina Litchfield)

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