What It Means To Be Green
February 13, 2008
Amy Stewart, who wrote the book, "Flower Confidential: The Good, The Bad And The Beautiful In The Business Of Flowers, " presented an environmentally conscious consumer's view of our industry at the recent Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition. She traveled the world to find out how fresh cut flowers come to market and was fascinated by what she learned. Now it was her turn to share consumer insights with us:
Sustainability Is A Conversation
"Organics, sustainability and green are a conversation. We' re all finding out what it means. Consumers know organic but aren' t as familiar with sustainable. It"s beyond organics to encompass worker health and safety, community development, conservation of our environment and resources and reducing use of our resources, such as plastics. Why be happy with just organics? "
Educated, Affluent Consumers Care
"People ask why do we care if it' s organic if we' re not going to eat it. It's not just what's on your plate, but workers in a greenhouse you've never met in a country you've never visited that impacts shopping decisions. Are they paid decently? Do they have opportunity? Are they safe at work? Are rivers and natural resources protected? It' the environmental impact of getting plants to me, like with locally grown food and the oil and gas used. It"s not just my health as a consumer but big-picture health. Educated, affluent consumers are a good group of folks who put dollars where their values are."
Sustainability Is A Good Story
"Half of sustainability is doing it. Half is telling people you've done it. A 10-point plan on how we're going to be green this year is an interesting story for the media and consumers. I know a florist who has a vase reuse program, where people who return vases get credit toward flowers. People remember and tell their friends. It's also a good way to engage Generation X and Y employees and involve them."
We Need More Than Price
"To assess quality, we don't have information beyond price. As consumers, we just see a dozen red tulips for $9.99. We buy wine on more than price. If it was only price, we'd be drinking a lot of two buck Chuck for $2.99. We have no sense of what a luxury rose would be. I will spend $10 on a luxury bar of chocolate. It's an affordable luxury. When you realize what you can get, it stops being about price."
Will The Market Reward Me?
"When I was in Ecuador the growers were saying, 'I'm still waiting for the market to reward me. I'm still waiting to get paid for this.' If the product is there, people will buy it and be excited about it. Consumers will respond in a positive way to green labels and not say, 'But what about all these other plants? ' Consumers are used to options, like the new Chlorox line."