Add Value to Your Poinsettia Crop, Part II

January 16, 2002 - 12:41

Last month’s editorial discussed the price point on
poinsettias and suggested some possible explanations for how the pricing
situation got to the present stage; this month looks at some specific changes
growers can make to take control of the poinsettia situation.

For example, if we were consumer product people, we would
look to some of the newer genetics to redefine the product. We would see not
just another red poinsettia but one with a story attached. Look at the success
of ‘Winter Rose’ and ‘Carousel’. If you have something
new, talk about it as new; promote it as new and unique, and price it
accordingly.

Packaging

Remember who the audience is. Remember it’s a gift
— at least half of the time purchased by, and often for, women.

In Europe this past year, Ecke ran a Winter Rose program in
a unique box. The overall look was that of a gift box, and the results were
solid sell-through at higher than “unpackaged” prices. Why?
It’s a gift so it belongs in a gift box.

Some poinsettias are even “flocked.” Why not if
it adds to the overall package? If packaging is important, can’t we look
at the product form as part of the packaging? We know that you don’t
control the genetics, but what you do in production is more important —
you can control the form.

Poinsettias are probably the most elastic plants we grow. We
can squeeze a “mini” or a giant tub out of the same genetics. From
trees to baskets to multiple plants or multiple pinches, growers have a wide
range of options on product form. We are seeing more straight-ups being grown,
as well as more tubs and more interest in mini trees. Most importantly, we are
seeing stronger prices with these unusual forms, helping shift dollars away
from the promotion-quality, 6-inch, 1-plant, pinched form.

Color

We tease that Paul has red poinsettias in the United States
and, in Europe, Josef has blue ones. We not only have blue poinsettias in
Europe, we have gold ones and silver ones. The newest rage is to paint white
poinsettias with a spray glitter. We know it sounds a little bad, but go back
to the gift/decorating story. We decorate for Christmas with what colors
— red, green, burgundy, gold and silver.

We also have Hanukkah around the same time, and blue is the
color of that holiday. So why not? Growers are getting on average $1.00 more
per plant because they are adding value — at a cost addition of only
around $0.20. How many are being painted? We know of a few growers only growing
white poinsettias to paint, and many are up to 25 percent white, versus a more
traditional 10 percent of the mix.

It does not seem to hurt the plants when you use regular
florist paint. And think of the new color combinations that decorators can
create. How about a Halloween theme — a Thanksgiving theme — how
about Southwestern — or elegant themes?

Promotion

Promotion is another area that greenhouse growers have
traditionally left up to the retailer. We see many opportunities to better
promote in every region. Taking advantage of free PR in local papers, with
local TV stations or with the local service clubs are just a few ways to help
support the product once it is in the marketplace. Ask your retailers how you
can help support a program.

What can you do?

• Host an open house

• Provide florist training day

• Invite local TV and newspapers for tours

• Celebrate anniversaries

Another promotion idea is to work better with fundraisers.
We estimate that fundraisers support as much as 5 percent of all poinsettia
sales. Each year, we allow our photos and images to be used by causes to better
promote their efforts. You can help organize, train staff, and create flyers
and PR for these types of sales.

Quality

The grower is often asked to sacrifice overall plant quality
to hit certain promotion price points. We understand that need and provide both
genetics and support to help grow poinsettias at high density and with lower
costs. But this quality equation does have two sides. We see time and again
growers able to move the other way — selling larger, fuller, more
colorful plants for more than the price of the beleaguered 6-inch.

A good reason for this is how the math works regarding
pricing. You can sell a whole lot fewer poinsettias if you are able to charge
more for them, and this is more true on a low-margin item. And the best part
about growing higher-quality plants or promoting them better or packaging them
more attractively is that it puts you in control of the situation; it lets you
solve one of your biggest problems.

About The Author

Josef Fischer is president of Fischer, www.fischerusa.com,and Paul Ecke III is CEO of Paul Ecke Ranch, www.ecke.com.

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