LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets has introduced an attractively packaged, colorful bouquet aimed at catching the attention of Hispanic customers.
The medium-sized bouquets are sourced pre-packaged in colorful, durable sleeves that bear the message “Pura Vida,” which in Spanish means “The Good Life.” In addition to being given a prominent spot in the floral departments of all 890 of Publix's stores, the bouquets are being merchandised in secondary spots in some stores.
“We began carrying Pura Vida in September,” said Maria Brous, the chain's director of media and community relations. “We wanted our Hispanic customer, as well as our non-Hispanic customer, to know that we are carrying the products most important to their families.”
When the Pura Vida bouquets are cross-merchandised, they could be placed in different areas, depending on the store, Brous said. They're not necessarily set next to Hispanic products or products that are favorites among Hispanics. The bouquet, with an everyday retail of $9.99, is promoted occasionally in the chain's ad circular.
While they're obviously intended to appeal to Hispanic customers and to underscore that they are an important part of the Publix customer base, chain officials and the vendor supplying the bouquets point out that non-Hispanics are probably buying the flowers as well.
“The idea is to have a wide market appeal for the Pura Vida flowers, in addition to making our Hispanic customers aware that we understand their importance in the marketplace and our commitment to serving their needs,” Brous said.
The floral supplier, which developed the product as an exclusive for Publix in the chain's marketing areas, said much the same thing.
“It's certainly an attempt by Publix, and by us, to market them to the Hispanic customer, but the bouquets look so great, I think they'll have other buyers, too,” said Bonnie Armellini, owner of Gems Global, a Miami-based importer and marketer of fresh-cut flowers, supplying supermarkets across the country.
Since the bouquets were rolled out to all Publix stores, officials have kept an eye on the results at each store, Brous said.
“In essence, Pura Vida conveys the ties of family, friends, culture — the good life — all the messages we want to communicate to our customers,” Brous told SN.
That was the philosophy behind Gems Global's emblazoning the message “Pura Vida” in big letters on the yellow and light-purple sleeves of the bouquets.
The supplier's marketing officials didn't have to think too long before they came up with Pura Vida as the marketing phrase, Armellini said. The aim was to deliver a cheerful message that would be general, not specific to a holiday, and not specific to just one segment of the Hispanic population. All Hispanics interpret the words “pura vida” the same way, Armellini explained.
“The Good Life, to Hispanics, embodies family, food, music and flowers. This is not an event program. It's a lifestyle program,” Armellini said.
Flowers for the Pura Vida bouquets are carefully chosen not only for their color but also for their durability.
“Yellows and pinks. Bright, but not very hot colors, because those broke off the bouquet too much,” Armellini said. “We chose durable varieties like chrysanthemums and Gerbers. They'll last and be seen as a good value. We want it to be a good experience when the customer gets home with them.”
Without hard figures indicating whether Hispanics generally buy more flowers than other customers, one researcher speculated that they probably do.
“Hispanics have a lot of celebrations and family gatherings There's quinceanera, for instance, which is sort of a coming of age celebration for a girl's 15th birthday,” said Rosita Thomas, president of Thomas Opinion Research, based in Manassas, Va.
“People say they often spend as much on those as on a wedding, and research I did a few years ago showed 61% of Hispanic respondents had attended a quinceanera in the past two years.”
Supermarkets increasingly are carving out Hispanic sections in mainstream stores, and developing more formats dedicated to marketing to Hispanics, Thomas noted. Publix has two such units, called Publix Sabor, and two more are planned for south Florida, Brous said.