Subscription flowers - Does your business offer them?

When I first started my flower business in 2013, my original business plan had me selling the majority of my flowers as subscriptions to local people.

I’d been researching on the internet, and had found American flower farmers in particular had CSA (Community supported agriculture) models which had customers buying Shares in advance to get flowers delivered to them over a set period of weeks. The idea being that they shared the bounty, but also some of the risks of the flower growing. The idea of a regular amount of money and knowing how much I need to grow in advance appealed.

After asking around my customer base, none of them seemed to like that idea, so I modified it to a home grown subscription service, with me creating a large vase of flowers each month, (and a wreath in December) which I delivered, and recycled the vases each month. I called it my Year of Flowers.

An April Year of flowers bouquet (2nd April 2015)

An April Year of flowers bouquet (2nd April 2015)

The first year, I had 2 customers, the 2nd year 3, but that seemed to be the maximum, the year after it went down to 2 again. At £360 a subscription, that still wasn’t to be sneezed at, but with little interest I moved on to selling in different ways, and didn’t really promote it much.

But at the same time in my area Freddies Flowers was invading. Freddies Flowers is a “homegrown” flower delivery company. Supported by big business, and with huge investment, but aiming to appeal to an audience that would like to buy from a smaller business, and fronted by “Freddy”. They promote flowers that are “Fresh from the grower so they last ages” (Which my customers took to mean from local British farms). Their clever marketing strategy had young gentlemen Actors door knocking in my area to promote their weekly delivery service. I knew this as I was told by a customer “I told them we had a lovely local grower and didn’t need them!” In space of 2 months I was told about them 4 times by customers telling me how wonderful it was that there was a flower delivery service of local flowers, and they were so easy to buy from, and they had wonderful flower arranging instructions, so it was simple to arrange the flowers to their “recipe”.

At the time they were charging £20 for a box of about 10-15 stems of flowers, that could be put together in a vase to form a simple arrangement. I even had a customer of mine gush on Facebook about how wonderful it was to have all British Flowers, - when actually they weren’t - I was incensed (mostly because I hadn’t got in with better marketing myself) and wrote this,

Beginning of April Flower arrangers bucket, one of the first I sent out.

Beginning of April Flower arrangers bucket, one of the first I sent out.

What they had found, and tapped into, that I hadn’t, was that my local customers wanted to buy for themselves, not just as presents. That the price of the “Year of Flowers” was too large in one go for all but those really having a special treat, and that a weekly or monthly price seemed more bearable to them. They also liked arranging the flowers, although most of them had no idea how to do that, so the weekly FF videos were perfect for them.

So I created “Flower club” to let my customers have a go at arranging flowers in a “no rules” “non judgemental” group, and I made a 6 week flower arrangers subscription bucket, which at £150 was almost the same price as the £20 per week. That year my subscriptions doubled to 6!

I then had a friend tell me that she would love to buy her friend a 3 bucket subscription, but she’d like one a month - could I do that? So last year I introduced a 3 bucket subscription, a 6 bucket subscription, and a subscription for my Friday flowers (£10 seasonal bunch or £15 market bouquet). All delivered on my way home to those locally.

They were exactly the same varieties of flowers I’d been selling before, but without me having to do the work of putting them into a bouquet, or wrapping them. While my bouquet sales went up by just 7% last year, the Subscription flowers went up by 656% (Yes I did double check that figure!)

I’d obviously found the right subscription offers for my customers at the right price points.

High summer subscription bucket. A mix of shapes and types of flowers but to a colour theme

High summer subscription bucket. A mix of shapes and types of flowers but to a colour theme

Not only did these customers spend an average of £40 more in a transaction than those buying a bouquet. But, they were also to be found regularly in my lists of workshop, flower club, and bouquet sales customers. Meaning that subscription customers were particularly loyal.

So how is that altering my planning for the coming season? Well obviously i’d love a 656% increase again this year…

But i’m going to concentrate on making sure that those locally know that I offer Fresh, locally grown flowers, that I can deliver to their door for them to make into arrangements themselves, and that they have a farmer/florist who runs a flower club that they can come along to to learn how to arrange the flowers.

Will this information help you find the right price point for you to offer subscriptions to those locally to you?