The Crate & Barrel woman

So I was in Crate & Barrel this weekend, and I noticed something new. They have a whole section of fresh flowers. Hang on, what? Daisies and roses? C&B sells non-perishable items like salad tongs and shag rugs! But if you think about it, the section actually makes a lot of sense.

Now a store like Crate & Barrel is pretty amazing at selling beautiful, mainstream, expensive home goods. But these kinds of items can sit on the shelf all season. To add a fresh section, where the products die in four days, must have meant a shift in the business model, not to mention the supply chain. So what's with the flowers?

I tried to imagine what flower bouquets have in common with the rest of the store. It's not immediately apparent, but there are a couple connections.

Number one, flowers and home goods are both occasion-based. You go to C&B when you're having a dinner party and you need a nice butter tray or soup ladle. What do you also need at a dinner party? That's right, you need flowers. Flowers for yourself, to freshen and brighten your home.

Number two, these offerings are both targeted squarely at a particular type of shopper: the upscale woman. Specifically, the upscale woman who buys herself flowers. Who buys herself flowers? A woman with confidence in herself, pride in her home, and money to spare.

Now, a fresh bouquet of flowers has historically been relegated to a) the husband on Valentine's Day, b) the college kid coming home for Christmas or c) the sympathetic family member sending condolences. All these occasions make flowers difficult - they are a last-minute excuse for a present, or they are hiding guilt, or they are trying to brighten a sad situation.

But in Crate & Barrel, the focus is on the shopper, this Crate & Barrel woman. Maybe she's having a dinner party. Or maybe she's having a quiet night at home. But either way, she is buying flowers for herself. She's empowered in the same way that women felt empowered to buy diamond right-hand rings a few years ago. She's giving herself a little personal indulgence.

I think that flowers in C&B makes perfect sense. They subtly complement the more permanent pieces in the store, they are consumed on similar occasions, and they are aimed at the exact same type of shopper. That elusive dinner-party-hosting self-loving indulgence-splurging happiness-purchasing Crate & Barrel woman.

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