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  • Design Room: Perceived Value Equals Real Profit
    By Rich Salvaggio, AAF, AIFD, PFCI
    Teleflora Vice President of Floral Publications

    A common marketing technique can challenge your creative thinking and increase your profit margin. It has to do with perception and how to use color, groupings, and careful selection to magical effect.

    Which would sport a higher price tag: geraniums sparsely potted in a glazed ceramic pot or geraniums grouped tightly in a terra cotta planter? You could probably charge more for the latter, although the ceramic pot actually makes the first choice the more expensive. Customers will pay more for the terra cotta planter chock full of geraniums because they believe they're getting more for their money. This is known in marketing circles as "perceived value."

    Perceived value is a common marketing practice and it's an excellent way to stretch the cost of goods. When it is mastered, florists can create appealing designs with less product but more technique, resulting in higher profit. Color composition, placement of product, and manipulation of flowers and other material are methods used to make more marketable arrangements.

    Designing for perceived value means you should be on the lookout for containers, plants, flowers, and other materials that are reasonably priced but out of the ordinary. For instance, an ordinary ebony vase filled with startling white carnations with a single burgundy rose in the focal area can become extraordinarily dramatic and fetch a handsome price.

    Tricking the Eye

    Grouping, massing, bundling, pillowing, banding, and layering are useful techniques for creating design value.

    The opulent look of one color of roses massed in a clay pot is appealing to most customers because they see quantity and color. This is an excellent way to use broken- or short-stemmed roses. Allowing the roses to open prior to using them in this type of design gives the illusion of more when actually fewer roses are needed to achieve the lushness.

    To enhance this design and add even more value, include a tuft of bear grass in the center for a sheltering technique, allowing it to rise above the roses and shadow the design. This provides height, adding yet another dimension while negligibly increasing the cost of goods.

    Line Drawings

    Linear materials are beneficial for adding value to designs because they influence the visual path the eye follows. A linear or vertical arrangement has height and motion because the stems are tall. Using linear materials to frame a design brings attention to the focal area for a stronger impact. Height nearly always enhances a design without impacting the actual cost of goods.

    You can expand on the use of linear materials by extending the customary rule of the tallest flower being one-and-one-half times the height of the container.

    For example, insert an amaryllis stem taller than the normal established height of the arrangement. Allow open negative space (totally empty space between products used in a composition) and cluster floral material at the base of the container, such as a heavy grouping of carnations or lotus pods at the foot of the design. The floral material around the container should be equal in mass and size to the amaryllis blossoms for visual balance. This example demonstrates again how form and flair can increase value without increasing your cost.

    Colorful Illusions

    Use color to enhance value. Analogous and monochromatic color schemes appear stronger to the eye than do mixed color designs. Bolder, brighter color attracts the eye and alters perception.

    The rich, velvety purple of lisianthus or the deep, robust color of a Black Magic rose stimulates the eyes.

    Greenery, of course, is the most common value builder. Three roses in a vase are certainly not going to garner the price of three roses in a vase along with plenty of lush greenery and filler. Add a ribbon and you've added more perceived value. If the roses are deeply colored and full, more value is added.

    Unusually shaped containers create more visual interest and can warrant a higher price tag when used in a design.

    The simple addition of raffia tied around the neck of a clear glass vase holds more value than the same design without it.

    Get the idea?

    Perceptual Razzmatazz

    The key to mastering perceived value design work is in the use of carefully selected product that seems to have more value, but in fact, may not.

    This magic act is achieved by combining different floral materials in ways to make them seem more plentiful, fuller, and larger. Design techniques can also make ordinary products seem extraordinary.

    Perceived value designs should be displayed more prominently so that they command more attention, adding to the illusion of high-dollar creations. Pricing of perceived value designs should incorporate the "look" rather than the product. You're charging for extra creativity, rather than extra flowers or a more expensive container.

    In essence, your customers will be paying for the mums and the magic, the roses and the romance, or the dahlia and the drama. And isn't that a fair exchange?


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