Covid-19 has been relentless in its determination to throw a spanner in retailers’ plans throughout much of 2020, but despite the economic uncertainty, come rain or snow, over the next few weeks shoppers will be flocking to garden centres in their droves to snap-up that much-loved festive favourite: the poinsettia. With these iconic Christmas emblems presenting an ideal opportunity to keep tills ringing, the experts at Stars for Europe, the leading poinsettia marketing agency, focus on techniques to maximise footfall in poinsettia sales areas this season.
Instore demos go virtual
One of the most significant findings to come out of HTA research that claimed almost three million people had taken up gardening during lockdown was the revelation that almost half (49%) of this new green-fingered army is aged under 49 – a far cry from the traditional older garden centre demographic. Capturing this new audience is retailers’ number one priority but it has been well documented that novice gardeners lack confidence – with younger shoppers unlikely to know how to care for poinsettias. In normal years, talks and demonstrations would easily have drawn a crowd, but with instore gatherings strictly off limits in the new socially distanced retail environment, singing the praises of poinsettias from a virtual platform presents a novel opportunity to capture the interest of potential customers who may be considering heading to stores to make their first poinsettia purchase.
A younger audience is likely to be tech-savvy, turning to Instagram and Twitter for tips and inspiration. This presents a chance for managers to identify a budding Alan Titchmarsh or Carol Klein on their team; a staff member who can communicate poinsettias’ immense sales potential on camera. With most smartphones capable of capturing high-definition footage, recording a two or three minute video instore that sings the praises of poinsettias, showcases the breadth of the range and offers easy care tips can help to drive footfall, once the clips are live on the web (don’t forget to use the #houseplants and #poinsettia hashtags when uploading to social channels). Why not start a YouTube channel for your retail outlet, building up a valuable collection of free practical advice to drive customer loyalty and form an added value element of your sales operation?
Inspire linked sales
Garden retailers are masters of linked sales: bottles of tomato food next to young veg plants in spring, and display units of seed compost conveniently positioned beside flower, veg and herb seed racks are two classic examples. But how can retailers up basket spend when poinsettias are often purchased as a throwaway item? Although these festive favourites can thrive as houseplants, millions will be composted in the New Year when their trademark coloured bracts are past their prime. And here lies the dilemma: poinsettias are less likely to drive sales of plant food and houseplant compost for repotting, as consumers are unlikely to keep plants for long enough to administer a little TLC.
In fact, it is the poinsettia’s unremarkable plastic pot that holds the key to generating linked sales. Christmas is all about bringing sparkle into homes, and a drab plastic pot is a world away from the magic of a winter wonderland. Step forward pot covers: retailers’ secret weapon to turbocharging basket spend. Take a number of premium poinsettias and display in dynamic pot covers that compliment or contrast the colouring of plants’ bracts – think classic Christmas hues of red, gold and silver, as well as en-vogue tones of grey and charcoal that enhance contemporary living. An enticing assortment of pot covers located right next to poinsettia displays will fly off the shelves, significantly upping spend as consumers seek a fast and convenient way to add wow-factor to their festive favourite and make it the focal point of this season’s celebrations.
Create customer hunger for poinsettias
One of the biggest challenges in garden retail during the coronavirus pandemic has been getting catering areas back on track while the capacity must remain significantly reduced to maintain social distancing. With the hospitality sector shut down during November, weary Christmas shoppers are likely to flock to garden centre cafes and restaurants as a treat, thereby presenting an ideal opportunity to sow the seeds of a poinsettia purchase while customers are treating themselves to refreshments.
As table decorations are off the cards due to Covid, writing off the opportunity to jog shoppers’ memories by placing mini poinsettias on restaurant tables, stand-out displays of poinsettias in central areas of catering facilities will serve to keep these Christmas classics at the forefront of shoppers’ minds, inspiring visitors to make a purchase before they leave the store. If you have secured stock of more unusual white, pink, cream or marbled poinsettias, for example, why not position star plants prominently in eateries, to encourage customers to pick up one of their own once back on the shop floor?
Embrace retail theatre
One phenomenon that’s taking the world of merchandising by storm is ‘retail theatre’. Garden centre managers and buyers who attended the Glee trade show in recent years are likely to have visited the event’s Retail Lab – a masterclass of how to stage creative, vibrant and inspirational retail environments – think Ikea, where small mock-up bedrooms and bathrooms showcase the retailer’s most quirky and innovative product lines, inspiring consumers to replicate the effect within their own living areas.
This technique of dressing retail space may work in spacious home improvement outlets, but how can garden centre retailers embrace it where every inch of floor space must work hard to maximise revenue? Even a small festive dining room table, located within houseplant departments and beautifully dressed for Christmas dinner, can offer a wealth of opportunities – not simply by showcasing a stunning poinsettia as its centrepiece, but by promoting creative projects, from advent wreaths containing traditional red poinsettias and candles to stand-out table decorations featuring vases laden with fashionable cream and white poinsettia blooms. Of course, swathes of poinsettias in contrasting colours nearby will promote impulse sales, but a mock-up Christmas dinner table takes wow-factor to the next level, driving sales of additional plant purchases as consumers look to inject a touch of Christmas magic into their homes.
Bring cheer to a local care home
An act of generosity at Christmas can pay dividends – and it needn’t blow the budget. Residential nursing homes, for example, have had a tough year during the pandemic, and a small donation of poinsettias will go a long way in lifting the spirits of dedicated staff and the residents they care for. A high-impact photo of garden centre staff in branded unifiorm with poinsettias earmarked for donation, sent to local and regional press, not only works wonders for the reputation of a business, but showcases a retailer’s stock to a vast potential audience, hitting home the message that these beautiful plants are in store to buy now. While garden centre staff won’t be allowed to enter nursing homes to donate the plants personally, due to the pressure of maintaining Covid-safe environments, care home managers are likely to welcome a donation of plants delivered to their car park.
Festive sales wrapped-up
One of the biggest causes of poinsettias shedding leaves prematurely is exposure to a sudden drop in temperatures. Offering customers a free protective sleeve for their poinsettia at the checkout is a cost-effective measure that demonstrates how staff are going the extra mile to help customers get their plant home in prime condition by protecting it from the elements. With poinsettias reigning supreme as a gifting purchase during the festive season, offering a gift-wrapping service further enhances the shopping experience and provides an opportunity for talented employees to let their creative juices flow. It goes without saying that displays of poinsettias by the tills, as well as in high footfall areas around the store, can help to generate impulse sales. Poinsettias may be regarded as a mainstay of houseplant sales areas at Christmas time, but extending their reach beyond the boundaries of indoor plant departments will help to unleash their phenomenal sales potential.
Find out more
To find out more about Stars for Europe, and to access its incredible library of advice, aspirational imagery and content please visit https://www.starsuniteeurope.eu/en/