Supermarkets give ideas for increasing sales of these
by Monica Humbard
If you can depend on any plant to sell during a particular time
of year, it’s poinsettias at Christmas. By now, you probably
know exactly how many to stock so you sell out before the
holiday season is over, making a nice profit for your
But what if you could increase your poinsettia sales by more
than 3,000 plants? That’s exactly what an Ohio supermarket did
last year. Floral Manager/Buyer Jeanne Wallace at Jungle Jim’s
International Market, a 270,000-square-foot independent
supermarket in Fairfield, Ohio, seized an opportunity, and it
Here is her story, as well as some additional suggestions for
merchandising poinsettias from Ms. Wallace and Michael Schrader,
category manager/gift and floral buyer at Schnuck Markets, Inc.
in St. Louis, Mo.
Ms. Wallace is a strong advocate of taking a chance on a product
when an opportunity arises. Last year, a local greenhouse called
her when its 6-inch potted poinsettias came on too quickly and
stopped growing. She discovered that despite their shorter
height, the five-plus-bloom plants were beautiful.
Ms. Wallace decided they would make perfect tabletop
poinsettias. She ordered 2,500 in four colors, promoted them as
“tabletop” poinsettias and priced them at $3.99 each. Not only
did she sell the entire first order, but by the end of the
holiday season, she had sold more than 3,000.
Despite concern expressed by her boss, Ms. Wallace did not cut
back on her regular poinsettia order. In addition to the more
than 3,000 tabletop poinsettias, she merchandised 400 61⁄2-inch
poinsettias and more than 20 cases of glittered and painted
poinsettias in every color available, along with 10-inch
poinsettias, upgraded poinsettias, poinsettia trees and
poinsettia hanging baskets.
The extra tabletop poinsettias did not hurt her regular sales at
all, Ms. Wallace reports. In the end, she sold all of her
poinsettias except 14 white tabletop ones. Her key to success?
“You have to stick your neck out and not be afraid to promote,”
Customers purchased the tabletop poinsettias as decorations as
well as gifts. In fact, Jungle Jim’s experienced a lot of add-on
sales with the tabletops. Shoppers liked taking them to
shut-ins, nursing homes and hospitals. Ms. Wallace says that
those who would normally buy 61⁄2-inch poinsettias were buying
twice as many of the tabletops, and some were still buying the
61⁄2-inch pots, too.
Ms. Wallace says many of her customers were not familiar with
tabletop poinsettias. They not only attracted the attention of
her regular poinsettia purchasers but also some shoppers who
normally don’t purchase poinsettias.
“They say that if you build it, they will come. That actually
happened for me. We were the talk of the town,” Ms. Wallace
strategies for boosting poinsettia sales
• Take chances with new
• Seize good pricing opportunities.
• Increase your selection with unusual and novelty
• Start your selling season sooner with painted
poinsettias targeted to Thanksgiving.
• Study sales data and the buying habits of your
• Wow customers with massive poinsettia displays.
• Cross-merchandise outside your department.
• Incorporate poinsettias into home-style displays.
• Upgrade potted poinsettias for different price points.
• Attract larger orders with quantity discounts.
• Advertise your poinsettias in a variety of formats.
• Inspire your staff with sales contests.
increase your selection
Both Ms. Wallace and Mr. Schrader have had a great response to
novelty poinsettias, including painted and glittered poinsettias
and poinsettia trees. Last year, Schnucks stores merchandised a
large selection of painted poinsettias. The response was so
positive that the chain plans to expand the selection for
Christmas 2007. “We reached a lot of people who wouldn’t
normally have bought poinsettias,” Mr. Schrader says.
When merchandising painted poinsettias, he recommends grouping
them separately from the traditional poinsettias. He also
suggests color-blocking all your poinsettias and moving them off
the floor as soon as shelf or table space is open.
Although traditional potted red poinsettias continued to be her
top-seller for Christmas 2006, Ms. Wallace sold out of every
painted and glittered poinsettia she carried. “You can’t just
limit yourself to the traditional,” she says. “If you never
carry it, you never know if you have the market for it.”
Both Jungle Jim’s and Schnucks also sold out of their poinsettia
trees last year. Mr. Schrader says Schnucks will offer them
again for Christmas 2007. And for the first time, Schnucks will
feature two novelty potted poinsettias that are exclusive to its
expand your time frame
Painted poinsettias have helped broaden the poinsettia season
for retailers. Ms. Wallace puts her poinsettias out a week
before Thanksgiving. Around this time, she displays white
poinsettias as well as the painted gold and orange ones.
Mr. Schrader recommends merchandising poinsettias even
earlier—around the first week of November. His stores start out
with the less traditional colors, such as peaches and mauves. As
it gets closer to the holiday, he says, the reds sell best;
therefore, during the week before Christmas, most of his stores
merchandise reds almost exclusively. The exception, he says, is
in areas with a large population of clientele who don’t
celebrate Christmas. Those floral departments sell all the
colors throughout the holiday season.
know what sells
Mr. Schrader says Schnucks pays a lot of attention to data and
demographics when determining what to merchandise in each of its
stores. Every year, it reviews the previous year’s sales data
for each store to see what poinsettias sold best. Although the
chain usually selects 10 poinsettia varieties a year, not all
stores carry the same ones.
Ms. Wallace is a firm believer in massive poinsettia displays.
Because her 6,000-square-foot gift and floral shop is separate
from the main supermarket, Ms. Wallace has to merchandise
differently to draw customers in. She makes sure customers can
look in through the shop’s many windows and see festive,
enticing displays. Last year, she constructed walls of
color-blocked red, white, marble and pink poinsettias. The
displays were placed so customers walked right into them. This
achieved the “wow factor,” she says.
She also lined the sales floor with poinsettias, and in one area
of the shop, she created a “wave of poinsettias” on a spiral
staircase merchandiser. She color-blocked traditional
poinsettias that spiraled into painted ones. Nearby was an
entire wall of glittered poinsettias.
In Jungle Jim’s 8,000-square-foot greenhouse, Ms. Wallace also
merchandises poinsettias on tables around a 25-foot-tall
decorated Christmas tree.
plan home-style displays
Customers often need help imagining where items would look best
in their homes. Some need to see them in such settings before
they even consider buying them. To assist such customers,
Schnucks stores create home-style displays that incorporate
Jungle Jim’s does the same in its floral and gift shop. Ms.
Wallace uses antiques to set up “lifestyle” settings; however,
recognizing that this type of display won’t attract younger
consumers, she also creates more contemporary settings. This is
true with her glittered and painted poinsettias, which she finds
especially appealing to younger shoppers.
Despite having her own separate shop and greenhouse, Ms. Wallace
still merchandises in the main store. Poinsettias are displayed
with other gift suggestions on four to six tables.
Schnucks cross-merchandises poinsettias throughout its
supermarkets. In addition to the floral departments, locations
include the checkout areas, the liquor and produce departments,
the front windows and endcaps.
Upgrading, particularly in higher-end markets, can help move
poinsettias. Last year, Schnucks stores placed poinsettias in
galvanized containers in addition to baskets. Mr. Schrader says
this gave them a finished look that appealed to shoppers.
Along with helping customers view poinsettias as gift items,
upgrading also expands the price range of your selection. Mr.
Schrader has found that 6-inch poinsettias sell best. When
upgraded, they sell for as much as $25 to $35.
Ms. Wallace says her shop features some type of upgraded gift
basket with a poinsettia and other products, such as wine and
fruit, every year. Last year, the floral shop filled a
trunk-style gift basket with a poinsettia on one side and cheese
and crackers on the other. The shop sold 75 without marketing
the baskets outside the store.
Ms. Wallace estimates that about 80 percent of her potted
poinsettias have at least pot covers and the rest are upgraded
further or placed in gift baskets. Even the poinsettia trees
have upgraded ceramic pots and baskets available for purchase.
Customers last year found handmade bows in baskets next to the
poinsettias that her store sells matched the glittered, painted
and traditional plants, allowing them to upgrade poinsettias
themselves. All the bows sold out at $3 apiece.
solicit large orders
You can make even bigger strides toward increasing your bottom
line by targeting organizations, businesses and churches. Jungle
Jim’s sends out fliers to local churches in September, letting
them know when poinsettias will be available and the price
points. Ms. Wallace offers a 5 percent to 10 percent discount to
those who order 10 pots or more. The advance notice helps Ms.
Wallace plan her poinsettia orders. The floral shop also
contacts nursing homes and hospitals regarding large orders.
Schnucks offers volume discounts to organizations. The chain
promotes these larger orders through its “Holiday Guide,” which
it publishes in the fall and mails to certain demographics. The
Holiday Guide also is available in the stores’ customer service
areas. In addition to other departments’ products, the guide has
one to two pages of floral items including poinsettias.
In addition to promoting poinsettias in its annual Holiday
Guide, Schnucks advertises at least one type of poinsettia each
week in its sales circulars from November through December. It
might be a poinsettia tree, an upgraded poinsettia or perhaps a
4-inch desktop poinsettia.
In an effort to reach a variety of markets, Ms. Wallace
advertises in different formats. Her methods include promoting
poinsettias on a large chalkboard near the street in front of
the store as well as on a large electronic billboard that
customers see on the main road to Jungle Jim’s.
inspire your sales staff
While wonderful product, fantastic displays and enticing
advertising are important, Mr. Schrader points out that it helps
to move poinsettias if the staff is motivated to sell them. In
the past, Schnucks has had contests for poinsettia sales. Every
August, the chain’s floral managers attend a meeting that covers
new ideas concerning Christmas merchandising and employee
contests for the season.
You may reach Contributing Editor Monica Humbard by phone at (800)
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