How Harry & David Creates An Emotional Connection with Consumers

Brought to you by WBR Insights

In today's global marketplace, price is no longer the key brand differentiator. With huge brands like Amazon pricing almost any other business out of the game, rivals are having to find new ways of setting themselves apart from Jeff Bezos' ecommerce behemoth.

In more and more cases, customer experience is the battlefield on which the modern ecommerce war is fought. Smaller brands that are unable to compete on price must deliver a unique and personal service to their customers which sets them apart from the more faceless entities such as Amazon. According to recent Salesforce data, 67 percent of consumers and 74 percent of business buyers are willing to pay more if they can be provided a great experience.

This is the strategy Harry & David is adopting with its goal of building emotional connections with its customers.

Harry & David

Having recently gone through its digital transformation - including a brand new "Celebrations Passport" loyalty program which grants free shipping across the company's entire portfolio of brands, including 1-800-Flowers, BloomNet, Goodsey, and the Stock Yard line of meat products - Harry & David still felt something was missing.

Although the Celebrations Passport saw double-digit growth for the Harry & David brand, it realized a cultural transformation was also necessary to remain competitive. Consumers already have a natural emotional connection with flowers, linking them to special occasions such as weddings, funerals, Valentine's Day, and more. However, Harry & David wanted to build on this natural correlation between flowers and emotion to build stronger connections with its audience.

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"For 85 years we've been a brand that has owned holiday gifting," said Chief Marketing Officer at Harry & David, Michelle Farabaugh. "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. We wanted to give our customers a reason to care and build a relationship with us."

Emotional Marketing

To establish a market position it could take ownership of, Harry & David launched a new marketing drive called "Share More". The project aimed to focus on how the brand communicates with its audience and to share what is important to both sides of the conversation.

To this end, the company launched a series of special hosted dinners. It partnered with chefs, restaurants, and wineries and challenged them to create a special menu using Harry & David products. Food is another aspect of the human experience which people have strong emotional connections to, so hosting a dinner party featuring its own products is a fantastic way for Harry & David to build on these pre-existing notions.

Share More also has a strong social media strategy backing it up. Users are encouraged to share pictures and videos of themselves using Harry & David's unique packaging for things such as ornament and jewelry storage. The brand itself shares a host of content designed to build connections with its audience, such as behind-the-scenes footage and giving associates space to tell their personal stories.

"We have a wonderful creative team and photography team, but the pictures were a little dry, designed to sell the product, not to be emotional," said Farabaugh. "We're seeing the results of Share More in customer acquisition. 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."

Final Thoughts

Using emotional connections as a way of marketing your brand is a powerful tool. Consumers are far more willing to invest in a brand which has emotional relevance to them. Research shows they heavily favor brands which can effectively demonstrate their humanity — a massive 57 percent of consumers would be more willing to remain loyal to a brand they perceive as human.

Harry & David is succeeding in building these emotional connections with its audience through a strong and engaging social media strategy which combines powerful human-focused content and organic user-generated material. Alongside its innovative dinner party program, Harry & David is changing the game when it comes to emotional marketing.

"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 said. "We have a whole calendar of events allowing you to experience Harry & David in lots of different ways."

You can hear Harry & David's President, Steven Lightman, speak at eTail West 2020, taking place in February at the JW Marriott, Palm Springs, CA.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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