Customer Education Trends

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CUSTOMER
EDUCATION
TRENDS

Sharing your knowledge and expertise about flowers and plants with today’s “connection hungry” consumers is a sure way to secure their trust, loyalty and dollars.

By Bill Schaffer, aifd, aaf, pfci, and KriStine Kratt, aifd, pfci

Until now, it was the retailers who created value around their products and services, and it was up to the consumers to find their way to it. Now, the consumers are leading the drive. Consumers have strong opinions and specific needs they want to fulfill. It’s important to them to search for local businesses that offer unique craftsmanship, skill and expertise. Consumers are looking for transparency and authenticity in products and services. The floral industry is in a great position to build rapport with customers, old and new, and market to them in modern yet personal ways.

1. SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW.

Although it may sound strange, educating your customers should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. Educating clients is one of the best ways to increase your sales and turn people into long-term customers. When someone is first thinking about buying a product or service, he or she probably doesn’t know very much about it. How will he or she take care of that plant? How long with those flowers last compared to those over there? Where does he or she even begin with choosing wedding flowers?Before a customer becomes overwhelmed and hesitant to buy your products or turns to the “Internet of Things” for answers, strong sales education steps in. When we take the time to help our clients learn more about our products and give a balanced look at the options, it not only gives them the confidence they need to make a purchase but also earns you their trust and loyalty. Consumers are more likely to return to you as a source of good information and good products again and again.Of course, consumers are savvy and can instantly search for information online as they need it. We all do it time and time again. However, in our industry, the knowledge we have, the skill, the creativity and the experience can open a connection with people in ways an online search cannot. Share what you know about new varieties, rare finds or artistic creations. Make sure your employees can do the same. Become the source of not only amazing product but also amazing education and service. 020

2. TELL A STORY.

Current consumer trends show that shoppers are not as concerned about cost and appearance as they once were. Nowadays, they attach less value to status and money and look for value in what is meaningful to them and that gives back in some way. People want a connection to what they are purchasing. Adapting creative storytelling into your marketing helps communicate what’s new, special and rare. To share a story, you can highlight benefits, notable environmental qualities, unique product traits, your personal story and more. Be creative! A great example is Accent Decor’s new showroom in the Dallas Market Center. At the January market, they featured an inspiring display sharing how their containers are created from start to finish. Sketches and photos of the process, molds and tools were all subtly incorporated into their visual story of what it takes to bring their product to market and all the hands behind it. It was a powerful reminder of craftsmanship and added instant connection to the merchandise.

3. OFFER HANDS-ON WORKSHOPS.

Consumers are constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest DIY projects. An ever-evolving trend toward having a creative learning experience is an open door for our industry to share education and get consumers excited about flowers and plants. People love a “how to create your own …” class. For them, it’s a peek behind the curtain of the world of botanical bliss. It’s exciting and challenging and, usually, gives them a new respect for what it takes to do what we do.With the trend in “houseplant love” going strong, there are endless options for hands-on terrarium classes, “build an herb garden” workshops and many other “green experience” learning options. The latest trend in indoor gardening is geared toward kids. Plant kits, child-sized gardening tools, and bright and whimsical containers all scream “fun and playful.” We’ve even seen white-painted succulent plants that come with colorful water-based paints to let kids create their own artistic color enhancement.