Motive Research Team
With Mother's Day fast approaching, you might be considering sending flowers to someone special. If you are curious about where your money ends up and want to support brands that are aligned with the things you care about here’s a quick guide to the nation’s largest online florist brands.
To be clear, we are providing this overview for informative purposes only--We do not have any affiliate or commission agreements with any brands discussed below.
The Top Four...or maybe just three
- 1-800-Flowers.com: It’s the largest online florist in the US by sales volume, with reported revenue of US$877M in 2020. 1-800-Flowers is a public company that owns a number of other brands, including BloomNet, Harry & David, and Florists.com. 1-800-Flowers has earned a low RealScore, ranking lower than 79% of all other brands (See full results here). In fact, they only record a positive sub-score in one area (Business Ethics) and their Climate Action score, a measure of a brand’s emissions and their efforts to reduce these over time, is a very low at -49. The company does publish a statement on social responsibility but it lacks any measurable targets and independent review. To see what they say themselves: Brand website & Twitter.
- FTD: FTD, or Florists' Transworld Delivery, was founded in 1953 to enable florists in different parts of the country to sell flowers nationally. In 2019 FTD sold to Nexus Capital Partners, a Los Angeles-based Private Equity Firm, for $118M. Nexus Capital Partners also owns TOM'S Shoes, the mission-driven shoe brand. Unfortunately, Nexus Capital doesn't publish any sustainability metrics or Corporate Responsibility Reports and this lack of disclosure make it quite difficult to truly understand how they go about managing their impact on the issues that matter. To see what they say themselves: Brand website & Twitter, and Nexus Capital Management website.
The floral industry is truly global and touches on all aspects of sustainability--from local communities, employment standards, business ethics, climate change, water security, natural systems, and human rights.
- ProFlowers: ProFlowers is another popular online flower store. However, they’re actually owned by FTD Companies, which purchased ProFlowers for $430 million in 2014. This means that they too are part of Nexus Capital Partners. To see what they say themselves: Brand website & Twitter.
- Teleflora: Teleflora, a popular online florist network is based out of Los Angeles, California. Founded in 1934, it is now part of The Wonderful Company, a private equity firm owned by Lynda and Stewart Resnick, which also owns FIJI Water and POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, among others. The Wonderful Company publishes a fairly comprehensive Corporate Social Responsibility report that can be read here. According to their CSR report, The Wonderful Company is already supplying 25% of its electricity needs from on-site renewable sources and has committed to using 100% Renewable Energy by 2025. The Wonderful Company also produces wine and they are a certified member of Sustainability in Practice, a certifying body focused on preserving and protecting natural and human resources for winemakers. Our review of their efforts to manage their impacts leads us to anticipate positive outcomes, however we are still trying to collect enough data to be able to actually measure the outcomes of such efforts. As a privately-held company, Teleflora is not held to the same disclosure standards or expectations as are most publicly-traded companies, such as 1-800-Flowers.com, above. To see what they say themselves: Brand website & Twitter.
The Winner is...
If you are ordering flowers online, you will likely see promotions and offerings from any (if not all!) of these four leading providers. The floral industry is truly global and touches on all aspects of sustainability--from local communities, employment standards, business ethics, climate change, water security, natural systems, and human rights. With the aim of supporting companies that best manage their impacts on the issues that matter, it would seem at this time that Teleflora is likely the leading service provider.
Do note, however, that these four online florists all operate as Floral Wire Services. This means that they are in the business of processing floral orders but not in actually delivering these orders--your order will most likely be transferred over to a local florist in the region where you are requesting delivery. If you are concerned about the impacts of 1-800-Flowers.com, the lack of transparency and disclosure by FTD and ProFlowers, or the centralized control of Teleflora, then you can always call up a local florist and place an order with them directly...and quite likely end-up with the exact same flowers!
If you are ordering flowers for someone special this Mother’s Day, know that there are enough options available to ensure that you can choose a brand that aligns with the issues you care about.
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