1-800-Flowers.com Plays Up Nonfloral Items

With Christmas falling on a Monday in 2000, some catalogers set earlier shipping deadlines for holiday delivery.

Multichannel marketer 1-800-Flowers.com has branched out. During the past three years, sales of nonfloral gift items have grown from virtually nil to 30% of total sales, says spokesperson Ken Young. So, to capitalize on the gift-giving season, the $385 million marketer dropped its biggest-ever mailing in late November.

Garden City, NY-based 1-800-Flowers.com won’t reveal the total circulation, but Young says the 32-page catalog mailed to names from the house file as well as to names from the databases of “partners” American Airlines, United Airlines, American Express, and Sears. 1-800-Flowers.com tailored the books sent to the customers of the partner firms, who were members of customer loyalty programs. The special editions display each partner’s logo on the cover and targeted bind-in inserts.

More than two-thirds of the products in the holiday catalog are nonfloral gifts. “We’ve made a huge move into gifting with items such as plush teddy bears on sleighs, gourmet foods, and jewelry,” says Pamela Knox, 1-800-Flowers.com’s senior vice president of marketing. By the end of June, the company expects nonfloral items to account for 40% of sales.

The catalog mailing came just one month after the company redesigned its Website to also reflect its diverse product offering. “The Website, which now accounts for 30% of our sales, is a huge asset for us,” Knox says, “because although flowers are still our flagship product, customers can come online and educate themselves about our alternative products. We’re taking advantage of our established brand name.”

Research analyst Kristine Koerber, of the San Francisco-based financial services firm Hambrecht & Co., says the push to food and giftware “is a good move, because it’s a higher-margin business than flowers. It’s a strategy that [during the past year] appears to be working for 1-800-Flowers.com.”

DIGITAL SAVINGS 1-800-Flowers.com worked with New York catalog production agency Marke Communications to produce the holiday book, which used digital photography exclusively. Doing so “saved 10 days in an overall production schedule of 12 weeks,” says Marke Communications executive vice president Allen Rosenberg. “This gave the company an opportunity to select its merchandise later and buy it closer to the market. This way, it was able to pick up on any trends.” What’s more, he says, 1-800-Flowers.com cut its photography costs 20%-25%.

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