As a former Chamber of Commerce exec, I think I’ve pretty much heard all there is to say about Wal-Mart, the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve served in communities where there has been a Wal-Mart and where there has not, yet everyone seems to have an opinion on the global retailer.
Regardless of your feelings about Wal-Mart, last week’s announcement that the retail giant had pledged to increase its “Made in the USA” purchases by $50 billion over the next 10 years, certainly caught quite a few folks I know by surprise.
This announcement is certainly a noble goal that comes with serious consequences and challenges for any retailer in today’s “global marketplace,” let alone the largest. I was recently looking to purchase an “Made in the USA” fleece vest and was told repeatedly, that I wouldn’t find one. I still haven’t. Maybe this noble decision will help bring fleece vest production back to the United States?
But was this a noble decision to bring those purchasing dollars back home, therefore increasing US manufacturing, or simply a PR play?
Why would an organization like Wal-Mart, the low price provider, feel compelled to commit to buying more local?
Because origin matters and American consumers are responding. Here at the CCFC, we’ve seen evidence of this already, with the increase of bouquet’s labeled “CA Grown.”
So, if Wal-Mart is going local, how does this affect our flower industry? Make no mistake, Wal-Mart is simply responding to capitalize on a growing trend among consumers. I’m sure they’ve done their own market testing and their current scan data already supports their decision to make such a public announcement. So, what about the flowers?
Time will tell if Wal-Mart’s “buy local” commitment translates to the flowers they purchase (the majority of which currently come from South America). However, this news should inspire smaller floral companies, such as florists, event planners, floral designers and floral wholesalers, that have more flexibility in purchasing to beat the giant to market and promote their commitment to American Grown Flowers right away.
In a time when the floral market has remained flat, innovation has been stagnate and new marketing approaches are hard to come by, I would submit the following three reasons for you to beat Wal-Mart’s commitment to “Made in the U.S.A” in 2013:
- Authenticity – People love farmers’ markets. Why? Because they are enjoying an authentic experience of buying directly from the farmer. With the advent of social media, there is no reason why a florist, designer or retailer shouldn’t be recognized as an authentic source for bringing the “Farm to Table” relationship to their customers. In fact, I’d argue that this kind of authenticity would provide you the kind of differentiation that would help drive sales.
- Differentiation – If 80% of the flowers sold in the United States are imported, that means there is a huge amount of potential for florists, designers and retailers to be marketing against the status quo by selling something different, American Grown Flowers. A local florist, selling locally grown flowers. People would love to hear that and apparently they are willing to pay more for it.
- “American Grown” is Effective Marketing – A study by the Boston Consulting Group recently found that “over 80% of Americans are willing to pay more for Made-in-USA products, 93% of whom say it’s because they want to keep jobs in the USA”
If you are a florist, floral designer or retailer and this is something that you’ve already committed to and are marketing your American Grown commitment, the California Cut Flower Commission would like to talk to you. Please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a flower lover or just a concerned citizen and this is something you’d like to learn more about and how one might go about sourcing American Grown Flowers, I’d be happy to provide some guidance. Simply leave your question in the comments section below.
I would like to hear from you on this subject. Please leave a comment below.
What challenges or consequences would you face by sourcing more American Grown flowers in 2013?
Are you seeing increasing demand for locally grown, Made in the USA, products in your community?
Want further sources of inspiration to make the commitment to American Grown?
- Made in America, Again: Why Manufacturing Will Return to the US
- Local Produce Increasingly Preferred To Organic, Consumer Survey Shows
- American Grown, by Michelle Obama
- The 50 Mile Bouquet, by Debra Prinzing