Although you may think that buying a bouquet of flowers is a occasional activity, perhaps best reserved for certain holidays only, in China it is a huge market. According to the Merger and Reorganization Opportunities Research Report, the Chinese flower market reached $17.2 billion (109.72 billion RMB) and is expected to reach $30.4 billion (194.37 billion). of RMB) by 2023.
For brands, it’s a lucrative opportunity — but one beset by fierce competition. According to QCC, a business information research platform, there are currently 410,500 flower-related businesses, including The Beast and Roseonly, as well as traditional e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and JD.com. Even fresh food e-commerce platforms like Hema and Dingdong got to work.
In such a saturated market, how can you hope to stand out? Daily Jing delves into several key points for those wishing to grasp the intricacies of flower retailing in China.
Flowers as luxury goods
Tang Jiani, a Gen Z fashion enthusiast, said Daily Jing“A classmate of mine once bought a bouquet of The Beast for $1,570 (RMB 9,999) as a gift for his girlfriend, which refreshed my opinion of their class. If your boyfriend offered you such high-end flowers, wouldn’t you be thrilled?”
The reason The Beast can be trusted with such product awards is its brand identity, which is based on customization and strong aesthetics. Each bouquet is designed as a work of art and $137 (RMB 880) allows a customer to get their flowers specially personalized. Bouquets priced at $155-$940 (990-5,999 RMB) are popular with consumers for their eye-catching names and elegant designs, for example, “Blue Sky” and “Hot Explorer” to express love, or messages such as “A Little Luck” and “Best wishes to you.”
Of course, The Beast isn’t the only florist to go high-end. Known for its romantic “one in a lifetime” tagline, Roseonly is a sought-after label for many women. She introduced Ecuadorian roses (or “the most beautiful roses in the world”) to the mainland for the first time, introduced the concept of eternal roses to Chinese consumers, and ushered in a new era of rose gift sets. Many celebrities, including Zhang Ziyi and Yang Mi, shared their Roseonly roses online. Indeed, it is a crucial part of the experience for consumers. The logic behind this phenomenon is based not only on the beauty of the flowers but also (and perhaps more importantly) on the materialization by the company of the promise of a lover.
At the same time, it should be noted that these establishments have opened physical stores in medium to high-end malls like HKRI Taikoo Hui and K11 Shanghai. This reinforces the image of brands while improving customer experience and trust.
Affordability and diversified sales models to attract more
With the basic “clothing, food, shelter and transportation” needs of most people having been met, more and more consumers are yearning for a better quality of life. Under these circumstances, many verticals in the flower industry have emerged and flower e-commerce platforms are one of the main forces behind this movement.
In 2015, the floral e-commerce outfits Reflower and flowerplus have been established. Dissatisfied with only providing services for certain occasions (such as weddings and festivals), they took the initiative to introduce affordable fresh flowers to the mass market. They launched a monthly model, namely four “mystery boxes” of flowers delivered weekly for $15 (99 RMB) per month. Back when traditional brick-and-mortar flower shops dominated the market, a single bouquet sold above that fee was more than common. — due to complex supply chains and store operating costs. With its innovative character and affordable price, the monthly model quickly became fashionable.
Thanks to the rise of Douyin and other “interest e-commerce” platforms, many merchants have started selling affordable flowers through live streaming. Take @花仙子鲜花, a seller with 1.35 million subscribers on Douyin: products sold in user’s live streaming sessions all cost less than $12 (RMB 80) and most bouquets cost around $5.4 (RMB 34.9). Some Douyin sellers have even built their own communities of customers, from which they receive advance payments for bulk purchases, and gain a large number of orders by encouraging existing members to recruit WeChat friends to join them at a low price.
Sold through live streaming on Douyin and Taobao, Flowerplus attracts consumers mainly through discounted pre-sale prices. He then supplies according to the number of pre-sold products. With this model, the brand can relatively accurately know the products preferred by customers and the number requested. Meanwhile, he can prepare the stock accordingly to avoid wastage.
Additionally, sellers often adopt the free gift sales tactic to win new customers. Reflower is a perfect example of this, offering new customers a free vase with their first purchase. When the flowers die, the empty vase will naturally remind the customer to buy another bouquet of flowers, and thus customer loyalty is achieved.
Quality: A difficult problem to solve
As good as the sales model is, the quality of the flowers is always a concern. Due to climatic limitations, the country’s flower plantations are mainly found in Yunnan, Guangdong and Liaoning provinces. Due to a lack of large-scale development (and the fact that most plantations are rural households), quality is rarely consistent. In addition to this, the flowers have a short shelf life and high transport requirements. Almost no company can 100% guarantee the quality of flowers received by customers. According to iiMedia Research, after quality, delivery delays and after-sales service attitude of online flower sellers are the most serious problems. — respectively 54.5% and 29.7% of consumers complained.
Regardless of the size of the market, operating a business in this field is obviously not an easy task. However, from high-end representatives like The Beast and Roseonly to low-cost winners like Reflower and Hema, companies have gradually educated consumers about the desirability of their products and achieved initial success. In the future, with the simultaneous development of multiple trends, including branded high-end flower arranging and the diversified product lines of existing flower groups, the winners will be those who can break through current sales patterns, attract consumers outside the niche and cover a large part of the supply chain and delivery.