How Florists Can Benefit From The AFE Funeral Directors and Flowers Report

The "Funeral Directors and Flowers" report from the American Floral Endowment includes valuable research and insights that can florists can use to improve sympathy sales.

How Florists Can Benefit From The AFE Funeral Directors and Flowers Report

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) Board of Trustees established the Floral Marketing Research Fund to collect funds from industry sources that would be used to fund consumer research benefiting the entire floriculture industry. A recent survey was administered to members of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA). It aimed to learn about their attitudes toward the use of floral tributes in funeral services.

The funeral directors were also asked about consumers’ reactions toward sympathy flowers and the symbolism connected to sympathy flowers; their current relationships and experiences working with local floral retailers; their opinions on the use of donations instead of floral tributes at funerals; what floral retailers can do to improve floral tributes, post-funeral floral tribute use, and additional services that would improve their relationships with floral retailers.

The findings from the survey offer insights into flowers and plants at memorial services from close to 200 funeral directors nationwide and can assist in enhancing the florist-funeral director relationship and the educational and marketing materials provided to funeral directors. These materials, aimed at consumers, would illuminate the emotional, psychological and physical benefits flowers bring to grieving families.

It is a very valuable report that will help any florist improve their sympathy business.


Some of the key findings include:

  • Funeral directors considered flowers and plants as providing the most comfort to the bereaved, followed by sympathy cards, for non-human sources of comfort.
  • Seventy-three percent of funeral directors believe their clients recall flowers and plants as a comfort.
  • From the viewpoint of the family, the majority of funeral directors (51%) believe floral memorials are an expression of sympathy, followed by tribute/respect for the deceased.
  • Seventy-four percent of funeral directors encourage flowers at the services and nearly 18% of them view floral tributes as a significant tradition that should be preserved.
  • Funeral directors recall approximately 64% of clients talking about flowers/plants. This means flowers are very important to them.
  • Sixty-eight percent of funeral directors are unaware of any studies showing the benefits of flowers at services.
  • Twenty percent of those who completed the survey indicated that families of the deceased always request donations instead of flowers, 70% stated their clients sometimes request donations and 10% specified donations are rarely/never requested.
  • Sixty-four percent of funeral directors do NOT use the term ‘in lieu of’ flowers in funeral announcements.
  • The majority of funeral directors (63% were visited by a local florist in the past 3-4 months while only 19% were visited 1+ year(s) ago or never.
  • Eighty percent of funeral directors stated they have a working relationship with at least one local florist, 7% have a local florist but not a real working relationship, and 2% have an in-house floral designer/shop.
  • Seventy-four percent of funeral directors encourage families to have flowers at their service, 6% only sometimes encourage flowers/plants, and 16% have no preference.
  • The majority of directors (44%) believe funeral flowers are sometimes a hassle while 18% of them think funeral flowers are a hassle indicating there is room for improvement.
  • The cards attached to memorial flowers are another area for improvement for 89% of funeral directors.
  • The majority of funeral directors (75%) also expressed the use of containers that avoid spills as helpful, followed by adjusting the arrangement (45%) transporting flowers to the cemetery (23%) and setting up the flowers in the service area (15%).


The complete report includes much, much more valuable information including ten key insights and detailed, actionable suggestions from funeral directors. It turns out they are probably more pro-flowers than you think. They like flowers, they want to work with florists, and this report shows you how to make it work.


Additional Sympathy Resources

There are other truly excellent materials available to florists from the SAF Sympathy Resources section. These include things like:


Sympathy Business Checklist

This checklist helps you take a look at your sympathy program, spot your strengths and identify areas that could use a bit of professional polish.


Advice and Talking Points to Establish Relationships with Local Funeral Directors

This page provides the suggestions to help you start a conversation with and win over your local funeral director(s) through education, support and service 


Suggested Letter to Local Funeral Directors

This template helps you create a letter/press release that explains the role of sympathy flowers in the bereavement process and address the issue of the “in lieu of flowers” phrase in your community, for distribution to local funeral directors and state funeral industry trade publications.


Two-Fold Thank-You Brochure for Funeral Directors

For some funeral directors the phrase "in lieu of flowers" really means they don’t want to deal with flowers. To them, handling and transporting flowers is an inconvenience, a hassle, an expense. This document provides advice and materials to win funeral director(s) over to flowers.


List of Alternative Phrases for Funeral Directors

This list of suggested alternative phrases eliminates the expression “in lieu of flowers” and achieves three important goals: It honors the family’s request for a charity, meets the high standards of good taste and decorum, and does not dictate to friends the manner in which they express their sympathy.


State Funeral Directors' Associations Listing

A state-by-state directory of funeral directors associations. The goal is to get involved with them – submit articles for their newsletters, advertise in their publications, exhibit at their trade shows and more.



A number of articles related to empathy flowers.


Promotional Ideas

Resources to educate consumers about the benefits of flowers in expressing sympathy and the variety of sympathy services your shop offers.


Print Ads

Downloadable templates for print ads promoting your sympathy business.


Radio Commercial Scripts

Radio advertising can be highly effective and less costly than television and newspaper campaigns. Nine in 10 Americans listen to the radio every week. This section includes more information on radio advertising and scripts promoting different aspects of your business (including sympathy).


About Flowers

The About Flowers website also has an excellent section on sympathy business.