During the recent World Floral Summit at Aalsmeer in The Netherlands the outgoing CEO of Royal FloraHolland, Lucas Vos, told the audience that the end consumer will become the leader in our market. That might not sound like much of a revelation; after all we have been meeting the needs of consumers for years haven’t we? But, in reality it is a vision of a different world to the one we now operate in. Sure, the market now, dictated by consumer preferences, selects what it wants and discards what it doesn’t but for the future the power of the consumer will be much stronger and instant.
Another speaker at the summit, Prof Jan Rotmans, spoke of disrupting technologies that have completely changed some industries. Uber is a frequently cited example of a company that has turned the traditional business model on its head. It is the largest taxi company in the world, but it doesn’t own any taxis and the service user leads. Prof Rotmans anticipates an ‘Uber’ for healthcare and many other sectors within the next three years as we shift from ‘supplying’ our clients to ‘facilitating’ them.
So, the consumers on their tablet, phone or laptop become the kings of the chain and everything else has to fall into place. The trouble is we are not set up to service this kind of demand. So, we need to find out what we need to do to change. Flowers are just one kind of luxury and there are many alternatives for home enhancement or gifts. We need to better understand these changes by bringing in expertise from those who have done this already in their sector. We need to keep ahead before consumers find flowers not user-friendly enough.
Also, there are new markets coming on stream in Asia and developing countries. As the number of households, with money to spend on luxuries, increases in these new markets the flowers industry needs to be ready to become the home-enhancement and gifting product of choice. They are already up-to-speed with technology so to capitalise on these markets we need to get our act together quickly.
Apparently, the logistics industry is about to be disrupted too by something called ‘block chain’. Logistics is critical to what we can achieve in the task of facilitating the consumer. We might not need to become experts in all these new areas but we certainly need to know people who are!
I am confident that we can maintain a strong demand for flowers but whether we can make it reach its real potential remains to be seen.