Add Value to Your Poinsettia Crop, Part II By Josef Fischer and Paul Ecke III

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

For example, if we were consumer product people, we wouldlook to some of the newer genetics to redefine the product. We would see notjust another red poinsettia but one with a story attached. Look at the successof ‘Winter Rose’ and ‘Carousel’. If you have somethingnew, talk about it as new; promote it as new and unique, and price itaccordingly.


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 ina unique box. The overall look was that of a gift box, and the results weresolid 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 ifit adds to the overall package? If packaging is important, can’t we lookat the product form as part of the packaging? We know that you don’tcontrol 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. Wecan squeeze a “mini” or a giant tub out of the same genetics. Fromtrees to baskets to multiple plants or multiple pinches, growers have a widerange 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 areseeing stronger prices with these unusual forms, helping shift dollars awayfrom the promotion-quality, 6-inch, 1-plant, pinched form.


We tease that Paul has red poinsettias in the United Statesand, in Europe, Josef has blue ones. We not only have blue poinsettias inEurope, we have gold ones and silver ones. The newest rage is to paint whitepoinsettias with a spray glitter. We know it sounds a little bad, but go backto 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 thecolor of that holiday. So why not? Growers are getting on average $1.00 moreper plant because they are adding value — at a cost addition of onlyaround $0.20. How many are being painted? We know of a few growers only growingwhite poinsettias to paint, and many are up to 25 percent white, versus a moretraditional 10 percent of the mix.

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


Promotion is another area that greenhouse growers havetraditionally left up to the retailer. We see many opportunities to betterpromote in every region. Taking advantage of free PR in local papers, withlocal TV stations or with the local service clubs are just a few ways to helpsupport the product once it is in the marketplace. Ask your retailers how youcan 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 poinsettiasales. Each year, we allow our photos and images to be used by causes to betterpromote their efforts. You can help organize, train staff, and create flyersand PR for these types of sales.


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

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

Josef Fischer and Paul Ecke III

Josef Fischer is president of Fischer,,and Paul Ecke III is CEO of Paul Ecke Ranch,

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