Florists Push to Keep Mom Sales From Withering

1-800-Flowers, ProFlowers Fight Recession With Promotions for Day That Accounts for 25% of Biz

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NEW YORK ( -- While many families are saving pennies, they are not resorting to making painted-ziti necklaces for mom just yet -- a relief for the country's florists, for whom Mother's Day is one of the most important days of the year.

According to the Society for American Florists, the industry reaped 25% of its annual revenue during the May holiday in 2005, the most recent year for which that data was available. Mother's Day is second only to the December holidays for the industry; Valentine's Day comes in third.

And for some individual companies, mom is even more crucial. "Mother's Day is our biggest holiday," said Lewis Goldman, senior VP-brand marketing at, the largest advertiser in the category. "[But] we're expecting that people will spend less this year."

For that reason, the industry is turning to hard promotional discounts, knowing that while consumers still intend to spend, they may spring for a smaller bouquet. According to recent research by the National Retail Federation and Big Research, 83% of Americans polled said they will celebrate the holiday, and two-thirds indicated they would buy Mother's Day flowers this year, around the same percentage who bought them last year. But consumers will spend less on those posies, on average $25.23 vs. $26.41 in 2008. As a result, the Mother's Day floral business is expected to total $1.9 billion, a 5% decrease from 2008 and a 15% drop from 2007.

In an effort to ensure flowers remain the go-to gift this season, the floral industry is reaching out., which is owned by DirecTV parent Liberty Media Corp., is running radio and TV spots pitching promotional discounts. Its radio ads ask consumers to click a microphone icon on its website and enter the disc jockey's name to get money off their flowers. One such promotion, for example, offers 100 blooms for $19.99, down from the everyday price of $39.99. Proflowers declined to comment, but it's logical that by using the DJ name, it easily allows the marketer to track which station's ads are paying off with orders. The company spent $13.1 million in measured media, excepting internet outlays, down from $8.5 million a year earlier, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Digital efforts
In April, launched a viral campaign called "Spot a Mom," which encourages people to buy for all the mothers in their lives. The campaign provides recommendations for each type of mom, whether she is a "new mom," an "on-the-go mom," or a "mom of a mom," as well as promotional discounts of up to 20%. Nitro Group handles creative and TargetCast handles media for 1-800-Flowers. also hosted an online sweepstakes at, which invited consumers to "spotlight" a deserving mom by submitting a short story about her. The contest drew hundreds of entries, far more than the company anticipated, he said. has traditionally invested the bulk of its marketing online, where Mr. Goldman said the company allocates 50% of its budget. According to TNS Media Intelligence, the company spent $59.1 million on measured media in 2008.

This year it delved further in the digital realm with the "Spot a Mom" campaign using Facebook, Twitter and blogging to increase buzz around Mother's Day and entice consumers to spend on all the mothers in their lives -- sisters, aunts, grandmothers, friends -- in the recession.

Mr. Goldman said there are 82.5 million moms in the U.S., and "no mom should be left behind," even in this economic climate.

To cater to the times, is offering 30 Mother's Day gifts under $30 (called "The Every Mom Counts Collection"), discounts on bundled purchases and new loyalty-program rewards. The deals apply not only to the flowers on the site but also the gift baskets and other items the company sells, such as popcorn and cookies.

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