Industry Talk: Michael Russo
Gift Association of America president forecasts the hottest
products for Christmas 2007.
you haven’t done so already, it’s time to start ordering your
gift selection for Christmas. As you make your decisions this
year, consider these words from Michael Russo, chairman and
president of Gift Association of America and president of
Industry Advisors, Inc., a company that works with retail and
wholesale organizations to develop and expand their gift and
tabletop business. He shared his insights on the topic with
Super Floral Retailing Contributing Editor Monica Humbard.
Q. What will be the hottest
giftware for supermarket floral departments for Christmas 2007?
I see an expansion of gift tabletop and serveware. Some of these
items are being used in floral arrangements and then used as
functional items once the floral piece is discarded. Teapots,
collector boxes, decorative canisters and jars make great
containers for arrangements. Later, they make great decorative
accent pieces for the home.
Q. What is popular now that will
carry into the Christmas season?
Candles are everywhere, and the fall and Christmas seasons are
when their sales really explode. Colors are basic Christmas
colors: red, green, cranberry, burgundy, etc. Scents are
traditional: burberry, spice, holly berry and so on. Scents such
as vanilla and pumpkin, however, are much more versatile because
they are not limited to Christmas. Votive lights and scented tea
lights always sell well. Integrating candles into creative
centerpiece displays is always a winner.
Q. How can supermarket floral
departments increase Christmas gift sales?
The floral area can take some lessons from the bakery and deli
departments. A good bakery is known all over town for its
quality. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly about the supermarket
with the best-tasting cakes and most creative cake decorating
ideas. The same is true for the deli department.
If the floral department focuses on being unique [year-round],
customers will come from a wide area [for Christmas merchandise]
just as they do for specialty cakes and party trays. In order to
build the business, however, aggressive marketing must be
explored. Once the word is out, customers will spread the news.
Q. Have you seen a change in
Christmas gift sales in the supermarket floral market?
I see an increase. Each year, I see the floor space increase for
the Christmas area, which is a clear sign of a successful
category. Also, I see a broader selection of available products.
Q. Do gift baskets continue to be a
big seller for supermarket floral departments?
Gift baskets are a big seller because they serve two purposes.
Usually, they are very attractive and have a “value-added”
quality to them. In addition, there is a convenience factor that
plays a strong role in the purchase. They make great Christmas
party gifts, hostess gifts, etc. In addition to general appeal,
gift baskets make great gifts for men. Shower soap, foot powder
and shaving items are perfect gift ideas. They are basic
necessities that can be dressed up to look like gift items.
Baskets can be created to have a masculine appeal. I think there
should be a small section devoted to men’s gift ideas since it
is a difficult category to develop.
Q. Should supermarket floral
departments increase their gift basket selection?
Absolutely. Gift baskets provide a wide variety of gift
suggestions, and supermarkets have a wide range of customers. It
is the one store that attracts all types of wallets. The
promotional shopper needs food as does the customer with “money
to burn.” If the supermarket is close to a corporate area, it
can offer specialized services for corporate gifts.
Customers will not buy what they cannot see; therefore, it is
important to show some creative themes without being overly
concerned about the price. You never know where your customer’s
wallet is until you reach for it. Don’t assume that customers
will not pay for expensive gifts. That is just not true.
Customers will pay when they feel that there is value in the
Q. What are the key retail price
points for gift baskets for supermarket floral departments?
Gift baskets can range from $20 for a small basket to well over
a few hundred dollars for a specialty basket. Stores that
attract corporate customers can enjoy retails in excess of $150
to $200, depending on the importance of the client who is going
to receive the gift.
You can reach Contributing Editor Monica Humbard by phone at (800)
To enjoy the rest of this
issue, please go to the
Subscriptions page and get your
copy of Super Floral Retailing today!!!
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2006
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.
Site management by
Tier One Media