Friday, June 25, 2010


Definitions of Mass
1. A unified body of matter with no specific shape: a mass of Mylar enshrouded bouquets
2. A grouping of individual parts or elements that compose a unified body of unspecified size or quantity: "Take mankind in mass, and for the most part, they seem a mob of unnecessary duplicates" (Herman Melville). For that matter take bouquets in mass, and they seem to be a bunch of unnecessary duplicates. (Sorry, Herman!)                          
3. A large but nonspecific amount or number: a mass of homogeneous products
4. A lump or aggregate of coherent material: a cancerous mass.
5. The principal part; the majority: the mass of the continent.
6. The physical volume or bulk of a solid body.                                                                  7. Abbr. m Physics A property of matter equal to the measure of an object's resistance to changes in either the speed or direction of its motion. The mass of an object is not dependent on gravity and therefore is different from but proportional to its weight.
8. An area of unified light, shade, or monochromatic display of bouquets
9. Merchandising; as in mass markets. Endless amounts of the same item item repeated ad infinitum and/or ad nauseum.   10. masses The body of common people or people of low socioeconomic status: "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" (Emma Lazarus).                                                      Wow, yesterday I visited the new IFE, an acronym for International Floriculture Expo, which presented its first show in Miami.  This floral trade show is a reincarnation of  the former SuperFloral Show, and appeared to me to involve the same players and the same products for sale. There was a lot of mass produced products available for purchase by the buyers from the mass markets. There were masses of plants, and masses of bouquets, and masses of decorated sleeves, and masses of Mylar balloons, and masses of containers. There were a lot of Christmas greens too. In fact masses of them!          There was not a lot of people, and the general tone of the show was rather hushed, muted and reserved, rather like, Sunday mass. However, exhibitors at the show that I talked to were quite happy with the show, and the buyers in attendance were buying and seemed very serious.
Clearly, the show highlights, at least for this observer, that in fact the floral industry when taken as a whole is still fairly robust, and that when it comes to flowers the mass markets are receiving a larger and larger portion of consumers' discretionary dollars. However, unless you are a mass marketer reading this, then  this is probably not particularly welcome news to you, and it certainly poses a dilemma to wholesalers such as ourselves. But the unwelcome advance of the mass markets sems to be inexorable and inevitable. The only  strategy for survival is to keep looking for new markets, new products, to stay abreast of new trends and fashions and monitor the creative pulse of your customers, especially those striving to think outside of the box.
That is because nothing is sacrosanct, or the exclusive domain of florists and designers. At USA Bouquet, one of the largest suppliers of floral products to the mass markets in the USA, they are offering "Wedding Packages"; featuring one Bride's bouquet, five Bride's Maids bouquets, boutonnieres for Groom and principal male figures, and rose petals to scatter!
With an eye to the future, and one looking back at the past, there are still niches that can be extremely profitable provided attention is paid to the following:
Craft - fewer and fewer persons in the floral industry really have a deep understanding of the flowers and techniques necessary to produce truly professional products. Research, practice and technique clearly set the best designers apart from most in our trade.
Fashion - most people who call themselves florists have very little affinity with beauty, give aesthetics short shrift and are not in touch with the act of creation. Forward thinking creative designers will be successful if they understand their medium intimately and can identify future trends and fashons.
Differentiation - Actively engage in sourcing and locating products that cannot be found in mass markets or at your competitors', and be thinking of how familiar products can be "Re-Presented" in novel ways. Harness new techniques and technologies to aid in creating designs.
{For example, in the world of cooking I am still amazed at the strides made by Fernan Adria in the Nineties at El Bulli restaurant who was the first to employ a Blood centrifuge, a medical device used to separate the components of blood, to make new dishes and flavors incorporated in "foams" and "smokes" that we are fairly familiar with today.}
Passion - All the successful floral professionals that I have known over the years are deeply passionate about their work, and yet are able to deeply appreciate the synergy and necessity of sound business practices.
Emotion, elaboration and execution are all needed in the flower business, but remember: "No Business; No Flowers!"

All, in all, the show offered very little that was new or novel, which may be good for our segment of the business, as it does demonstrate that the mass-markets, while gaining market share, are pretty much hoeing the same rows over and over which will inevitably lead to stagnation. In fact, it was my perception there was an atmosphere of a creeping sedentary staleness  in many parts of the exhibition hall. But hey, I am a little biased. Oh whoops, NEW, NEW, NEW! I forgot to mention that one of the rose breeders; Preesman had a rose naming ceremony that was supposed to be a highlight but ended up being a squib that did not explode. A new rose to be named after floral commentator "Bobbi Ecker". Never heard of her? Don't worry, neither have I, but apparently she does fine work and is a very inspirational floral commentator. OK, but I did not understand: Is the rose going to be called "Bobbi Ecker" or "High and Icon"?
As for the rose, I will let you be the judge. As for me, I joined the mass exodus.

Images from top to bottom:
1. Exhibition at Miami Convention Center, looking South
2. Exhibition looking North
3. (L-R) Felipe Sanchez, Jaime Landazabal of CargoMaster,
excellent freight forwarders in Bogota, and David Kaplan, of "Above All Flowers"
4. Amy Desperito of Natural Flowers and Armin Pippenburg of Atlantic Flower import, both Miami distributors
5. Wedding Package; courtesy USA Bouquet
6. Naming Ceremony for new rose from Preesman
7. Rose "High & Icon" aka Bobbi Ecker

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