Growing the Houseplant Market: Part 2

Growing the Houseplant Market: Part 2

FR presents the second in our exclusive three-part series examining the Floral Marketing Fund’s “Consumer Houseplant Purchasing Report 2021.”

By Andrew Joseph

Coordinated by the Floral Marketing Fund (FMF), the “Consumer Houseplant Purchasing Report 2021” has been released. Florists’ Review has examined the 291-page document and, in a three-part series (May, June and August issues) will provide an overview of the report’s findings.

The report divided the genre of houseplants into the following 10 categories: 

• Flowering

• Narrow-leaf Foliage

• Broad-leaf Foliage

• Ferns

• Indoor Palms

• Trailing/Climbing

• Succulents

• Bromeliads

• Air Plants/Tillandsia

• Cacti

The crux of the report was to determine if COVID-19 affected customers’ plant attitudes, perceptions and purchasing behaviors in 2021—the answers for which will, hopefully, provide you with insight on how you can proceed with planning and budgeting for your business. 

To be transparent, a total of 1,700 U.S. individuals passed a screening process—aka “Purchasers.” Of those who did not pass the initial screen (Non-Purchasers), 300 were invited to complete a survey regarding their non-purchasing behaviors and attitudes.

In Part 1 of this series of articles (FR May), we examined the purchasing habits of the 1,700 Purchasers. In Part 3, which will appear in our August issue, we will compare data from FMF’s 2019 survey with the data from this 2021 survey.

In this article, Part 2 of 3, we look at the habits exhibited by Non-Purchasers to determine if there is a possibility of turning them into houseplant buyers in the future. We also examine how retailers can make happen.

For the sake of brevity, we are presenting only a few of the data points—those we feel are most likely to help you gain new houseplant customers.

plants flower shop


Health and Well-being of Non-Purchasers

Unlike the houseplant Purchasers who participated in the study, the 300 Non-Purchasers expressed less optimism about the future and were less positive about their health and well-being. Most of the Non-Purchasers indicated that their mental health had improved only somewhat since the beginning of the pandemic.

In the study, 80% to 89% of Non-Purchasers said they consider physical health, mental health and financial health to be important, so emphasizing the health and wellness benefits of houseplants to them could appeal to these potential customers.

The COVID Effect on Non-Purchasers

When asked if their lack of purchasing houseplants was related to the COVID-19 pandemic, 52% of the Non-Purchasers responded that their purchasing behavior had not been affected by the pandemic; COVID was not the reason they don’t purchase houseplants. Twenty-six percent of Non-Purchasers indicated that the pandemic did prevent them from purchasing a houseplant. An additional 23% said that both “COVID-19 and non-COVID” issues impacted their decisions to not purchase houseplants.

The takeaway: A failure to purchase houseplants by many of the Non-Purchasers may have been due to reluctance to leave their homes to shop; health concerns and/or mask-status preference; economic- or health-related closures of nearby houseplant retailers; and/or financial reasons.

Employment Changes of Non-Purchasers

Consider that this survey indicated that while 62.5% of Non-Purchasers did not have a change in their employment status, 37.5% did: 17.4% were laid off; 10.8% had their work hours reduced (and, thus, their income); and 9.4% were furloughed (temporary leave of absence).

Online Interest/Engagement of Non-Purchasers

While most of the Non-Purchasers did not engage with plant businesses online, 31.0% of the Non-Purchasers said they did follow houseplant retailers and/or houseplant organizations or associations on social media. The takeaway: Some Non-Purchasers were (and possibly still are) interested enough in houseplants to at least follow houseplant sector-based companies. In fact, 26.5% of Non-Purchasers stated that they had previously purchased houseplants frequently from retailers, growers or houseplant organizations/associations after viewing them on social media. An additional 9.3% said that they, too, had previously purchased houseplants, but their purchases were infrequent.

The social media platforms that Non-Purchasers frequent most are: 

• 71.5% – Facebook

• 40.3% – Instagram

• 31.6% – Twitter

• 18.4% – Pinterest

• 14.6% – SnapChat

• 14.2% – LinkedIn

• 14.2% – TikTok  (Keep in mind that TikTok has increased tremendously in popularity over the past two years.)

Ages of Non-Purchasers

Here is a breakdown of Non-Purchasers by age:

• 27.4% – ages 65-74  (baby boomers)

• 20.5% – ages 33-44  (millennials and young Gen “X”ers)

• 16.0% – ages 55-64  (older Gen “X”ers and younger baby boomers)

• 11.8% – ages 25-34  (millennials)

• 11.8% – ages 45-54  (Gen “X”ers)

•   6.9% – ages 18-24  (Gen “Z”ers)

•   5.6% – ages 75-84  (Greatest Generation)

The largest generational groups of Non-Purchasers were baby boomers, at 43% (ages 58-76 in 2022) and millennials, at 33% (ages 26-41 in 2022).

Income of Non-Purchasers

The average annual income for Non-Purchasers was stated as $59,542.

• 58% of Non-Purchasers reported incomes less than $59,542.

• 21% reported incomes between $60,000-$99,999.

• 21% reported incomes greater than $100,000.

Education of Non-Purchasers

Non-Purchasers reported the following about their highest education levels:

• 24.7% had high school diplomas.

• 20.8% had graduate degrees.

• 19.4% had bachelor’s degrees.

• 18.8% had some college education but no degrees.

•   8.0% had associate degrees.

•   4.2% had some grad school education but no degrees.

•   4.2% did not have high school diplomas or GEDs.

Gender of Non-Purchasers

• 53.8% – Female

• 46.2% – Male

Marital/Relationship Status of Non-Purchasers

• 49.3% – Married

• 21.9% – Single

• 13.9% – Divorced/Separated

•   9.0% – Unmarried but in a relationship

•   5.9% – Widowed

Non-Purchaser Families and Children

The report differentiates between children (1-12 years of age) and teenagers (13-19 years of age).

• 70.5% – no children

• 77.1% – no teenagers

• 19.4% – one child

• 15.3% – one teenager

The numbers are significantly lower for more than one of each youth.

Location Demographics of Non-Purchasers

• 44.8% – Suburb

• 26.4% – Metropolitan city or area

• 14.6% – Rural area

• 14.2% – Small town

• 24.3% – the South

• 20.1% – the West

• 19.4% – the Midwest

• 16.2% – the Mid-Atlantic

• 15.8% – the Southwest

•   4.2% – the Northeast

There were no respondents from the Northwest.

Pet ownership of Non-Purchasers

This is information retailers can use when marketing houseplants by providing lists of toxic and non-toxic houseplants to consumers.

• 36.8% – Own at least one pet

• 43.1% – Own at least one dog

• 35.1% – Own at least one cat

• 35.1% – Own at least one bird

•   1.4% – Own at least one reptile

People who own pets are willing to spend lots of money on them. It is possible that many Non-Purchasers believe that houseplants are not appropriate to have around free-range pets.

Converting Non-Purchasers into Purchasers


The report concludes that there is potential to reach all Non-Purchasing consumers; however, these potential consumers will have to be assured/convinced that houseplants are valuable products both for themselves and as gifts for others. Take note that some of those surveyed indicated that purchasing houseplants in the future is not out of the question.

So, how do you capture Non-Purchasers’ attention and encourage them to buy houseplants? For walk-in shoppers—realizing that most consumers entering a flower shop are most likely to be looking for flowers—prominently display signage that announces the positive attributes of houseplants, including:

• how houseplants are scientifically proved to positively affect consumers’ well-being and psyche

• how they clean the air

• how they can affordably and naturally beautify living and working environments

Also, be sure to create and display easy- and quick-to-read care signage for each type of plant in your store, prominently display the price of each plant, and showcase easy upgrades such as decorative containers.

There is no one solution that will work for every florist or on every consumer, so you need to employ multiple strategies—and employ them consistently. It’s a bit of trial and error; however, the information presented on these pages can help guide you in developing your strategies for converting houseplant Non-Purchasers into houseplant Purchasers.

Part 3 of our report on FMF’s “Consumer Houseplant Purchasing Report 2021” will appear in our August issue, and Part 1 is in our May issue and on our website at FloristsReview.com

Download a copy of the full report at floralmarketingfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Consumer-Houseplant-Purchasing-Final-Report-2021-For-Public_compressed.pdf

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