Theme Story

Millennials and post-millennials (Generations Y and Z, respectively) sure do love their potted plants. Just take one scroll through an Instagram feed, and you’ll find multiple interiorscaping accounts and posts. But do not be deceived by the thought of interiorscaping as a trend; instead, think of it as a movement toward wellness and getting back in touch with nature.

How to Get Younger Consumers Interested in Cut Flowers.

These younger generations are turning to plants for good reason. With the pressures of our modern society and technology encroaching on our daily lives, we all need a break, outlet or escape from the stress. So, intuitively, millennials and post-millennials have embraced the theory of “biophilia” – the concept that because we come from nature, we need nature (botanicals) in our lives. “Biophilia refers to the inherent affinity people have for nature, which developed during the long course of human evolution,” writes Stephen R. Kellert in his book Nature by Design: The practice of biophilic design.

Numerous research studies explain the mental and physical health benefits of viewing and working with nature, which is also the proposition put forth by Florence Williams in her book, The Nature Fix: Why nature makes us happier, healthier and more creative. Generations Y and Z are inherently drawn to botanicals to assist themselves in relieving stress and improving their well-being. But are all botanicals – cut flowers and foliage, potted plants, annuals and perennials – valued equally by our younger generations?

Positioning Cut Flowers to Appeal

Some suggest that millennials and post-millennials are not interested in cut botanicals (flowers and foliage) because of their limited post-harvest life spans. But I suggest that they may not currently see the value in cut botanicals as other generations have because we have not done a good job positioning those products in new ways that appeal to their interests and values.

Buying flowers to put in a vase is boring to them because other than picking them out at the store, they have no existing connection to these botanicals. These generations crave personal stories. They want to grow the flowers and foliage they design with. They want to learn about horticulture and botany. They want to maintain plants to feel a sense of purpose with nature. In essence, these generations want a botanical story.

Take, for example, my “Wellness in Floral Art” course at the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. Yes, these university students were excited to learn how to design with botanicals, but mostly they were eager to explore how incorporating them into their lives would be beneficial to them. Topics such as “Slow Flowers,” “shinrin-yoku” (forest bathing, taking in the forest atmosphere through all senses) and “ecotherapy” were popular discussion topics throughout the semester. The students were interested in the cyclical component of growing, designing and appreciating nature in its process. They wanted to know where their flowers were grown because, to them, the story of the bloom is just as important as the bloom itself.

I suggest that we do not think of these generations as not interested in cut botanicals because they lack value in longevity but to shift our perception to recognize that this generation is interested in the entirety of the botanical process. They want to cultivate their own gardens, design with their own flowers, parent potted plants and take a walk in the woods. They want to do this not only for the health benefits but also to show their appreciation for the natural world.

In essence, marketing traditional bouquets of cut flowers won’t cut it for these generations. We need to be more creative to grab their attention. Engage them with floral design workshops, botanical education books, how-to-grow garden seed kits, potted plant collections, botanical wellness opportunities – and even an Instagram-able space surrounded by cut flowers and potted plants to lure them into your retail space. Give these generations an opportunity to create their own personal botanical story, and they will share it on social media. A marketing win-win for everyone!

Morgan Anderson, Ph.D., designs floral décor for weddings and corporate events and teaches floral design classes through her company, The Flori.Culture in Scottsdale, Ariz. She also is a faculty member of Arizona State University in Tempe. She has a master’s degree in Horticulture from Kansas State University and a doctorate in Horticulture from Texas A&M University. Her appreciation for nature, keen eye for all things beautiful and love for education provide her with a distinctive aesthetic and unique perspective to the field of botanical artistry.