Rosy results for Hallmark Flowers

Executives at Hallmark Flowers, a subsidiary of Kansas City, MO-based Hallmark Cards, had good reason for cheer after holiday 2005: The company’s first-ever holiday catalog boosted December sales figures nearly 50%.

“We had fairly conservative plans, but we exceeded those plans and are very encouraged by the results,” says Jay Waddell, marketing manager for Hallmark Flowers. In fact, December sales set a monthly record for the division.

The company mailed between 500,000 and 1 million copies of the 20-page Hallmark Flowers & Gifts holiday catalog. “We had conservative plans because it was a test,” Waddell says.

Lydia Steinberg, the national campaign manager for Hallmark Cards, says the catalog showcased expanded product lines including jewelry, frames, decorative dishes, plush animals, and edible items such as Ghirardelli chocolates and fortune cookies.

Waddell says that launching a catalog for Hallmark Flowers, which began in 1999, was an “evolutionary” process. “Hallmark Flowers has done direct mail in the past, primarily to our customer base,” says Waddell. “We’ve seen where direct mail has been a good tactic for us. In terms of putting together a full-fledged catalog, it was a natural progression.”

Valentine’s Day launch

It launched its catalog last year in time for Valentine’s Day. This year’s Valentine’s Day catalog mailed to 670,000 customers and prospects, a 24% increase in circulation. Page count rose as well, from 12 pages in 2005 to 20 pages this year. The result: a 100% leap in response. “Our bouquets and unique vase designs [performed] head and shoulders above last year,” Waddell says. “And consumers have been responding very favorably to our new product lines.”

Waddell says 800,000 24-page Mother’s Day catalogs will mail later this month. “We are going to continue to test. Because of the nature of our business, we’re seasonally driven,” he says. “We’ll have a little bit different buyer base for each season with different consumer needs. We feel we need to do ongoing testing.”

Tapping into the catalog world, Waddell says, is part of an integrated marketing strategy for Hallmark Flowers. “More and more multichannel companies are seeing the value of producing catalogs,” he says.

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