In order to share more with customers and drive better engagement, gifting brand Harry & David went through a cultural as well as digital transformation with its Share More project, attendees were told at eTail West.
“For 85 years we’ve been a brand that has owned holiday gifting,” said Michelle Farabaugh, CMO of Harry & David. “Last year we wanted to reposition the brand to be something that means and stands for something, not just for the customer but also for our associates. It’s in our DNA, it’s who we are, it’s what we are, it’s how we go to market every day.”
Farabaugh said if a brand doesn’t have positioning it can own, it won’t stand out in a crowded marketplace. “We wanted to give our customers a reason to care and build a relationship with us,” she said.
The Share More project, launched in the fall of 2018 across channels, focused on what Harry & David was trying to do as a brand, how it wanted to communicate with customers and share what was important on both sides.
“Consumers are going to choose who to buy from based on trust, and how do you build trust if you don’t have transparency?” Farabaugh asked. “We have a whole calendar of events allowing so you can experience Harry & David in lots of different ways.”
Farabaugh said one relatively unknown differentiator for Harry & David was the fact that it’s vertically integrated and makes 85% of what it sells.
Last year, the company launched a series of hosted dinners, partnering with chefs, restaurants and wineries to put together a special menu incorporating Harry & David products. “This is a way we can share what we love, our products, with our communities,” said Farabaugh.
The company also has Taste of Harry & David in its stores, where customers can try a product from one of its recipes, an experience it replicated online as well.
On social media, Harry & David aims for an emotional connection by talking about issues that really matter to its customers as an engagement point. Through this effort it has shared more content than ever, including videos and other visuals. For example, a video series introduces customers to associates, letting them tell their personal stories.
On Instagram, Harry & David combined everything from behind-the-scenes shots to user-generated content to provide more authenticity. It also leveraged Instagram Stories to connect to customers during the holiday season, again highlighting associates and having some fun, including animated GIFs of products. “It was a great way to engage with our audience,” Farabaugh said.
Harry & David has also done 360-degree videos on Facebook, including unboxing episodes, to create excitement and engagement from a user perspective.
The Share More project also generated more user-generated content, with customers for example demonstrating how they used their pear boxes for ornament storage. Harry & David also leveraged influencers, working with them year-round and not just during holidays and peak times.
“We have a wonderful creative team and photography team, but the pictures are a little dry, designed to sell the product, not to be emotional,” said Farabaugh. “To get that emotional connection, you have to incorporate lifestyle and use so this is a great way to leverage (influencers) year-round.”
Harry & David has also let influencers be part of an experience. For example, it created an event in New York City where people bought tickets and learned how to entertain, built around an influencer idea. The influencer was allowed to take over the company’s Instagram feed for the day, bringing the experience to those who couldn’t be there.
“We’re seeing the results (of Share More) in customer acquisition,” Farabaugh said. “We have a new younger customer, so it’s changed our business and the way our customers think about us, interact and engage with us.”