It’s high time we dedicated an entire issue of Florists’ Review to the very important topic of sympathy work.

While sympathy work is an amazing opportunity for florists to connect with customers on a very human level, it is also a large part of many florists’ businesses, and like everything else in business, the sympathy segment is experiencing dramatic changes. Many florists report that their business is down and they are looking for new opportunities.

The news in the industry can look discouraging. Not only are budgets shrinking for funeral work, services are either changing or disappearing, customers are choosing options other than flowers and they’re often encouraged to donate money to charities and other causes in lieu of buying flowers. Funeral homes are consolidating and vertically integrating into floral with in-house operations, and with more cremations, flowers for urns are smaller and less expensive than full casket sprays.

But there are opportunities. Many consumers are looking for new ways to celebrate the lives of their loved ones. Nontraditional sympathy flowers are making their way to remembrances and wakes. More like party and event flowers, these floral designs create a festive feel rather than the somber flowers of old. Consumers today are also looking for flowers that are customized to reflect the personalities, talents or hobbies of those remembered.


The trick, as it always is, is to create a repertoire of modern designs that fit with consumers’ changing wants and then showcase your innovative work on your website and Instagram channels. Develop new ideas, and put them out there. If your design doesn’t change and move forward, neither will your business.

Funeral directors were the first to be hit by changing traditions and customs, and the successful among them have adapted and kept revenue flowing by developing new business segments and models, such as reception centers and catering services. It might be beneficial for you to visit your favorite funeral director (or even attend one of their conventions) and discuss current and coming changes in the funeral industry along with ideas for how you can position flowers and plants to remain relevant.

I hope you’re inspired by this issue to create new sympathy work and share it. If there’s one thing we’ve learned by putting this issue together, it’s that sympathy work is changing fast, and you must change with it if you want to stay in front of your customers.