Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent time last Friday visiting big box garden centers and supermarkets in Jacksonville, Fla. Here are his findings:
December 11 was a cool overcast day with temperatures in the 40s, but it did not seem to deter shoppers as they were in abundance at most retailers. Poinsettias and live Christmas trees were moving off shelves at a good pace. As we get to the end of poinsettia season discounts were starting to appear on select items. Most inventories were leaning to more red with very few novelties available.
With a focus on fewer but high volume SKUs and high-performing vendors, Walmart has clearly enhanced the poinsettia category. Some stores have built attractive displays that garner the attention of their customers. Walmart’s seemingly biggest challenge is the outside displays with the potential of frost and rain. Product quality and packaging has improved year over year and I would suspect their store comps indicate such.
Lowe’s offered an array of sizes and price points that included some nicely glittered items, hanging baskets and several items in color bowls.
Home Depot’s main focus was 6.5-inch, 8-inch and 10-inch poinsettias, as well as substantial inventories in mumsettia that did not seem to be moving very fast. Ice Punch was a separate marketing program in a 6.5-inch retailing at $9.99 with slightly upgraded packaging. It’s another item that doesn’t seem to have much sales traction.
Sam’s Club offered the following poinsettia items:
–10-inch retailing at $15,98
–3 to 6-inch retailing $16.98
–Photo box with poinsettias and greenery that slots for photos on the sides retailing at $24.98.
Costco offered one item in the poinsettia category:
–10-inch retailing at $13.99, the lowest priced 10-inch of the year
Ace offered really nice quality poinsettias at very competitive prices and displayed well. The only issue is they have little traffic compared to the national retailers.
Publix Super Markets
I wanted to see how the leading supermarket in Florida marketed poinsettias. From what I saw, they will be challenging other leading retailers. The display was outside and the cold wet weather had taken a toll on the product quality that was originally pretty good.
There were clear signs the season is beginning to wind down with aging poinsettias, especially mumsettias. Markdowns were starting to appear on more items, and some stores displayed items that should have been discarded. Some of the markdowns were as follows:
–Lowe’s 12-inch Color Bowl Table Topper from $9.98 to $4.98 in one store.
–Lowe’s 6.5-inch from $4.98 to $3.98 price was dropped in all Jacksonville area stores, and I have seen that price in many other Florida stores.
–Lowe’s had a 50 percent off cart display of past prime items in one store.
–Walmart dropped the price of 6-inch from $3.50 to $2 in one store.
–Walmart dropped the price of 8-inch from $10 to $9 in a number of stores.
We would expect to see a lot of markdowns (this) week.
There is a lack of creative displays in most retail locations with many poinsettias displayed packed tight on carts in sleeves. Many times you see tables of red poinsettias without any color blocking of other colors that certainly would make a more compelling and appealing look. Many times, poinsettias displayed on tables are packed so tight it looks like a sea of red–but when you reach in to pull out an individual plant, there is breakage and this leads to markdowns and discards.
The way many poinsettias are displayed, the consumer has to work at selecting a plant. How many consumers buy a plant that is sleeved and when they get home the disappointment sets in?
The season seems to be variable with unseasonably wet weather in Florida that has slowed store traffic after a great start on Black Friday. I would except the poinsettias season to be flat to down as much as 5 percent based on the decline over the past two seasons–and because of a consumer who is under a lot of economic pressure.
The industry really needs to jumpstart the poinsettia category with more creativity and more consumer communication.
Table 1. Retailers Visited Jacksonville, Florida
|Home Depot||0226||Jacksonville||Pure Beauty|
|Home Depot||0270||Jacksonville||Pure Beauty|
|Home Depot||6365||Jacksonville||Pure Beauty|
|Home Depot||6346||Jacksonville||Pure Beauty|
|Home Depot||6935||Pure Beauty|
|Home Depot||6369||Orange Park||Pure Beauty|
Table 2. Retailers Prices, Jacksonville, Fla.
|Table Topper CB||12-inch||9.98-4.98|
|Centerpiece Silver Square||8-inch||15.00|
*Publix 6.5-inch consisted of novelties like ‘Monet.’
*Lowe’s glittered in both 6.5-inch and 8-inch were in upgrade tin containers.
About the author: Jerry Montgomery is a 40-year veteran of the floriculture industry and has worked for distributor companies, breeders and large growers specializing with a focus on sales and marketing. As an industry consultant, he works for large growers, distributors and breeder/producers. His focus is to understand the market dynamics from breeder to consumer through intense retail travel, visiting almost 1,500 stores since January 2008.