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A comparative study: Blooming bays vs. the alternatives

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We’ve put together this comparative blog to show you the differences between our best-selling bay laurel tree and the competition.

With the recent rise in popularity of artificial plants, trees and flowers, the retail market is being flooded with options and choice.

Making a decision when it comes to styling your home or business is getting harder and harder. Which style do you go for? How much do you spend? How do you know if the product is good quality and will last?

We’ve put together this comparative blog to show you the key differences between our best-selling bay laurel tree and three other competing retailers.

The retailers

  • A specialist direct competitor

  • A budget option

  • A national garden centre chain

Pictured from left to right: Blooming Artificial, Direct Competitor, Budget Online Retailer, Garden Centre.

The test

In all cases, we purchased a 120cm / 4ft artificial bay tree. We also anonymously contacted all four companies (including ourselves) with a series of basic questions and queries about the products.

Our comparison consists of these four main areas:

  • Customer service

  • Delivery

  • Product quality

  • Value for money

Customer service

We contacted each company with a few relatively standard questions:

  • How much is delivery?

  • How long will delivery take?

  • Is the product UV protected?

  • Does it come in a pot?

The responses to these and the time taken to receive a reply are benchmarked below.

Customer Service Comparison

Blooming ArtificialDirect Competitor Garden Centre Budget Retailer
Email Response TimeOur average email response time is 2.5 hours3 hours3 working daysNo response received
Live Chat Available?Yes – Always on during business hoursLive chat present – But nobody available to chatNoNo
Standard Delivery Cost£4.99 – Free over £70£10.55 – Free over £100£5free
Delivery Speed1 – 3 working days – 90% delivered within 1 working day2 – 7 working days – We received ours in 2 working daysNot stated - We received ours in 2 working days2 – 3 days – We received ours in 2 working days
UV ProtectionYesYesYesYes
Starter Pot IncludedYesNo - £2.50 extraYesYes

Delivery

All of the artificial bay trees arrived within two working days and were delivered safely by a national parcel courier.

All of the trees were delivered in relatively strong double-walled cardboard boxes, most of which had fragile labels. The level of the internal pot and foliage protection varied dramatically from virtually nothing to overkill.

Product quality

Starter pots

Three of the four artificial bay trees (Blooming Artificial, budget and national garden centre) arrived in a standard starter pot. These are designed to act as an anchor which should then be potted into a decorative plant pot or the ground. All three included decorative moss to cover the cement within the pot.

The specialist direct competitor charged an additional £2.50 for a basic pot. Without this, it would be freestanding and would require extra work when it comes to potting.

On arrival, we felt that the pot was not particularly stylish. The oversized nature of the large starter pot also means that it will be difficult to re-pot it into a standard-sized decorative pot. Had the product page shown the size of the pot, we would not have selected the added service.

Starter pots

Stems

Three of the four bay laurels reviewed (Blooming Artificial, budget and national garden centre) feature natural wood stems.

The budget and national garden centre options use what we colloquially refer to as a ‘broom handle stem.’ These are very straight and feature no decoration.

Pictured from left to right: Blooming Artificial, Direct Competitor, Budget Online Retailer, Garden Centre.

It’s worth noting, the national garden centres product arrived with a damp, mouldy stem. We contacted their customer services and were told that this is because the product is stored outside. We were offered a 25% refund, which we duly accepted.

Our bay tree’s stem is crafted from natural wood and features an additional decorated braid which wraps around the stem. The trunks are also hand-picked to ensure they have an attractive appearance.

The specialist direct competitor was an outlier. Its stem was made from plastic which offers a completely different, and in our opinion, less realistic appearance.

The other main differentiating factor is at the top of the stem. On the two budget options, the top ends suddenly as if you would find a branch sawn off with the plastic branches glued into place. Whereas the more premium options create joined separations in the stem before attaching the branches which then sprout off to create a more rounded and natural finish.

Foliage

Foliage is probably the most important part of an artificial plant. It attracts the eye, so should be as realistic as possible.

Across the range of trees, all of the foliage was made from plastic and claimed to be suitable for outdoor use. The main differences came when viewing the finish, density and veining decoration.

Both the budget and garden centre option lacked foliage density and were difficult to shape into a ball. Also, the foliage on each option was single-sided, meaning the underside of the leaves was considerably less realistic than the top. However, the top-side of the foliage did include some veining decoration.

Our bay tree and that of our direct competitor had great density (because they have more leaves than the cheaper versions), had double-sided foliage and were relatively easy to shape into a ball.

The differences between the two premium options came down to finish. Our version is softer and has intricate veins printed onto the leaves. The direct competitor offers no veining and is made from a harder plastic which is slightly shiny.

Berries

All of the bay trees included berries with varying degrees of realism.

The budget retailer had small brown berries which were pushed onto the plastic moulding. The garden centre used a similar berry, however it is a rather bright and unrealistic red colour. The specialist competing retailer had dark berries which were glued and pushed onto the stems and were the most realistic out of the three.

Our bay tree's berries are actually part of the plastic mould and are then painted black. While less realistic than some, we choose this option from a safety aspect. The three competing products berries can be removed and represent a small choking hazard.

UV testing

We have access to a UV testing chamber which exposes products to high doses of UV light to simulate the passing of time. 300 hours in this machine is broadly equivalent to one year in the UK. For this blog, we tested the foliage of each product for 600 hours, or two years.

Both the budget and the national garden centre bay trees failed the test. This is especially disappointing because both claim to be suitable for outside use.

The budget option retained its colour however the plastic stem became extremely brittle and crumbled in our hands. Imagine what would happen if the wind blew…

The garden centres offering was the worst offender out of the lot. It turned an ugly shade of blue and became extremely brittle.

Both Blooming Artificial and our direct competitors offer passed the test showing little to no change in colour or integrity.

Value for money

Blooming ArtificialDirect CompetitorGarden Centre Budget Retailer
Price£53£64.95£39.99£34.99
Reviews895 reviews 4.8 / 5 rating30 reviews 4.8 / 5 ratingNo reviewsNo reviews
UV TestPassedPassedFailedFailed

Value for money really is in the eye of the beholder. Your circumstances and expectations are your guides. However the term ‘you get what you pay for’ is really relevant when it comes to purchasing outdoor artificial trees.

Generally paying slightly more will secure you a higher quality product that typically lasts longer in typical UK weather conditions.

Summary

Blooming ArtificialDirect Competitor Garden Centre Budget Retailer
Customer Service ReceivedGreatGoodAveragePoor
Actual Delivery SpeedFast – 48 hoursFast – 48 hoursFast – 48 hoursFast – 48 hours
Delivery Cost£4.99 Free over £70£10.55 Free over £100£5Free
Starter PotYesYes – but extremely large, not stylish, and additional chargeYesYes
StemDecorative natural wood, intricate braidingPlastic construction. Interesting, if less realistic finishBroom handle wood – arrived damp and mouldyBroom handle wood
FoliageDouble-sided, soft and intricate detailingDouble-sided, hard and slightly shiny. Lacks detailSingle-sided with some detailingSingle-sided with some detailing
BerriesBlack. Part of the plastic mouldingBlack, can be pulled offRed, can be pulled offBrown, can be pulled off
UVPassed the two year testPassed the two year testFailed. Turned blue and became brittleFailed. Became brittle
Price£53£64.95£39.99£35.99
Reviews895 reviews 4.8 / 5 rating30 reviews 4.8 / 5 ratingNo reviewsNo reviews

Final thoughts

There are some great and not so great options covered in this blog.

At the low end, you will receive a nice enough artificial tree which may do the job. From specialist retailers like Blooming Artificial and our direct competitor, you may pay slightly more but receive a far higher quality product.

The choice then falls to whether you prefer the incredibly realistic approach we have taken with natural wood stem and soft detailed foliage, or the slightly more durable, plastic-heavy approach of our competitor.

As much as we have tried to remove bias in this comparison, we truly believe our artificial bay laurel tree carefully weighs realism with high-quality materials that stand the tests of the indoor and outdoor environments thanks to the UV protection and rigid build quality.

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