Quality Insights

Vase Life Guarantees Become the Norm Across Europe

04 October 2017
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Vase Life Guarantees Become the Norm Across Europe

01 January 2017

This week we have been looking at roses, one of the world’s favourite flowers. Roses are particularly popular as gifts, and traditionally we have bought them from florists and supermarkets. Yet at the moment we are seeing some major changes in the flower world and proportionate market share between florists, supermarkets and online is shifting. In particular we are seeing a huge increase in online ordering for flowers, and innovation runs high in this area.

Online retail has been on the increase for several years, and yet we still find ourselves feeling unprepared, and a little nervous about what it might mean for retail as we know it. Some anticipated that e-commerce would kill ‘high street’ retail, whilst others predicted that supermarkets would wipe out any need for independent retailers. What we did not necessarily anticipate was omni-channel shopping and the need to integrate our offer in order to become all of those things, in order to succeed.

If we ever thought it was difficult to package and transport flowers, or guarantee a vase life in the supermarket, try posting flowers through a letterbox, or keeping them alive and rich in quality in a ‘last mile’ logistics chain. Yet there are companies working out how to do just that, and even delicate roses can be sent in a box that fits through a letterbox - there is not even the need to be at home. Innovation in colours, varieties, mixes and delivery methods (along with personalisation, which will never go out of fashion), are posing challenges to florists and supermarkets throughout Europe. 

For the millennial generation, flowers are a common lifestyle choice. Having fresh flowers around the house is almost as common as having milk in the fridge, and supermarkets have been catering for this by offering smaller, cheaper bunches of flowers, including roses. To buy flowers for oneself is not at all unusual, as well as the tradition of buying them as a gift still being upheld.

With an increase in demand comes increased expectation. People want the personalised experience, quality product, range and knowledge of the florist (along with the careful presentation), with all the convenience of online ordering and delivery. Subscription is also becoming a huge part of shopping and many online flower companies are offering subscription services for flower purchases.

So how does the supermarket adapt to the changing landscape of consumer purchase and demand? Apart from innovation, flexibility and omnichannel possibilities, the core of the matter always comes back to assortment, price and quality - the three primary things that we monitor.

We measure roses for quality at two different stages; immediately after purchase, and after seven days. On day one we measure the stem length, minimum and maximum bud length, the number of broken stems, leaf drop, and the percentage of damaged flowers. On day seven we measure the percentage of open flowers, percentage of botrytis and the percentage of flowers that have wilted or died. In addition we always give an appearance score on day one as well as day seven. We still see many bunches that do not comply with the 7 day guarantee, which prevents consumers from wanting to purchase the same roses again.

Here at Innovative Fresh we identify problems by testing vase life ‘through the eyes of the consumer’ and in a way consumers would have flowers at home; in an ambient temperature. This gives accurate insights which would not show in a more controlled atmosphere.

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