Roses are red
Violets are blue
Forgot about Mom’s birthday
What should I do?!
...Order a bouquet from an online florist to be speed-delivered to her doorstep, of course!
Jokes and forgetfulness aside, the online florist industry keeps booming. Pre-pandemic, 30-35 cargo planes chock full of flowers arrived in Miami from Bogota every day to meet the consumer demand. Christmas, Mother’s, and Valentine’s Days were especially profitable — with daily revenues hitting up to $1.9 billion.
When lockdowns began, florists had to close and supply was temporarily disrupted — but the demand for flowers persisted. The Dutch Flower Group reported that in May 2020, physical storefronts were back at 80%-90% mass retail. Yet, online flower sales were 4X-5X higher than the year before.
As marketers, we know that consistent demand creates fertile soil for planting new campaign seeds and reaping the rewards. But what’s driving brand awareness among online floral shoppers?
We used our brand tracking platform to analyze the audiences of one of the fastest growing online florists in the UK — Bloom & Wild. What we found is that sometimes you need to venture into unexpected fields and take counterintuitive steps to better connect with ideal audience segments.
What’s Driving Bloom & Wild’s Success in 2021?
Bloom & Wild is a London-based online florist that offers cut-to-order subscription flowers, delivered from the farm to the mailbox.
Launched in 2013, the startup was among the first entrants in the D2C online floral sales. Strong positioning paired with a unique value proposition and creative ad campaigns earned Bloom & Wild the title of the UK’s second-fastest-growing startup (after Deliveroo) in 2017.
During the first weeks of 2021, Bloom & Wild closed a $102 million funding round. The new cash injection went towards expansion in new European markets, investment in technology, and bullish user acquisition.
So what stands behind Bloom & Wild’s success and how can other floral businesses can capitalize on the increasing consumer demand? Our data suggest there are three crucial factors for the UK market.
1. Competitive Markets Demand Focus on Raising Brand Awareness
The flower delivery market in the UK is dominated by larger players, such as Interflora — as well as retail chains (e.g. Marks & Spencer) and high street boutiques. Gaining the initial momentum is arguably the most challenging stage for new market entrants.
We found that, among the general population, 20% of Britons know the Bloom & Wild brand. That's not bad considering it's only been on the market for eight years. Of those that are aware of the brand, 62% would consider using it, and 38% of those considering the brand prefer it over the competition. Clearly, Bloom and Wild has a strong brand funnel — but how are they achieving this?
First of all, Bloom & Wild has a good brand differentiator — its unique way of delivering flowers. The brand realized early on that people didn’t like ordering flowers because they had to be home to receive the bouquet. Also, delivery notifications and courier calls ruined the surprise of gifting flowers. So they came with a concept: flatpack bouquets. These bouquets are carefully packed in a box that then fits into the average letterbox — ingenious!
Over the years, the product team also experimented with other “letterbox-appropriate” products — orchids, Christmas wreaths, and, finally, a mini Christmas tree. While the first two flopped, the doll-sized tree proved to be a hit in 2017. It went viral online, drawing more attention to the brand and organically boosting brand awareness.
Since the mini-tree was so successful, so Bloom & Wild has relaunched it every year since. In 2020, they also hosted a creative “design your mini Christmas tree” competition where they asked their audience (both adults and children alike) to send in their designs for the Bloom & Wild team to visualize.
Source: Bloom and Wild
A mega-successful product, real problem-solving, creative marketing, and distinctive brand positioning has helped Bloom & Wild secure its audience’s attention — and, more importantly, influence consumers to choose Bloom & Wild over “household name” competition.
2. Align Your Positioning and Communication with Customer Values
We found that Bloom & Wild hits the sweetest spot with Millennial women. 22% are aware of this brand and, among them, 64% would consider using it. Additionally, of those considering the brand, 41% prefer Bloom & Wild over the competition. At the bottom of the brand funnel, 33% of this audience are actually using the service.
So why is Bloom & Wild such a “pleaser” for Millennial women? Because a lot of the company’s copy and collateral speaks to our newly found affinity for “treat-your-self-pick-me-ups".
Pre-pandemic, Millennials already spent twice as much money on self-care than any other generation. In response to the uncertainty that the pandemic created, many dialed up their spending on therapeutic routines — be it meditation, skincare, personal coaching, or regular flower deliveries.
Bloom & Wild caught wind of this trend early on. And given that most of its bouquets are for non-special occasions and more original than a dozen of red roses, the company’s product line was well-positioned to appeal to the self-care tribe. Stellar customer support, easy-to-setup and cancel subscription, and emotionally-charged language used in the copy also helped Bloom & Wild engage and retain Millennial women.
Secondly, Bloom & Wild also strategically encouraged its customers to gift flowers “just because”. Again, this pitch seems to land well with women, who were sending flowers to family and friends during the pandemic as a “substitute for hugs”.
In 2021, Bloom & Wild processed over 780,000 non-special occasion orders. Among them, 162,000 contained the word “brighten” in the accompanying delivery message — further supporting the idea that people are ordering flowers to function as a “pick-me-up” or “small gesture” for others.
3. Secondary Audiences Can Become a Competitive Advantage
On the other hand, Bloom & Wild hasn’t been doing enough to engage Millennial male consumers. Only 8% are familiar with the brand, but among those who are aware, 62% would consider using it. In addition, 35% of those considering Bloom & Wild have a preference for it over others. Curious!
In-the-know male customers also developed a strong brand affinity for Bloom & Wild, but they were notoriously under-informed about the brand in the first place.
To some extent, such a lack of awareness can be explained by the company’s initial assumptions in regards to profitable target audiences. The surface-level market data indicated that 60% of e-commerce subscribers in the US are urban-dwelling, middle or upper-middle-class women.
Hence, it’s easy for new entrants to assume that they should target women too. But such lines of reasoning can lead to missed profits. Bloom & Wild, as well as other online florists, should spend more time looking into non-obvious audience segments if they want to grow their market presence.
For example, we found a very promising target audience using our brand tracking tool. Drum roll... it’s British men aged 56 and above.
Interestingly, this cohort already has a higher brand awareness than the youngsters — 13% vs 8% among Millennial males. They're in the same bracket in terms of brand consideration (35%), brand preference (35%), and brand usage (34%), too. Clearly, increasing brand awareness among the male demographics can help online florist businesses acquire new loyal users.
But how come Boomer and older Gen X men have a higher awareness of Bloom & Wild than Millenials? We think several socioeconomic factors are at play.
This demographic is more likely to have a family — and respectively, giftees to delight with a surprise flower delivery. Plus, they have more means to afford such gestures. Also, their awareness may stem from the giftees — their spouses and family members who are using this brand to send “a token” while separated by distance and travel restrictions.
Like other florists, Bloom & Wild rolls out holiday campaigns and promotes special deals for Mother’s, Father’s, and Grandparents’ days. What’s interesting is that they were among the first to offer their customers an “opt-out” from the promo mailing list if they felt too sensitive about any holiday.
Such an empathetic, yet bold, decision resulted in a major brand boost for the startup. While Bloom & Wild lost over 18,000 email subscribers after introducing the opt-in, their customer feedback volume increased by 5X and Twitter contact volume skyrocketed from 5% to 20%. Their appreciative audience was sending them words of gratitude for making such a considerate move.
The positive sentiment on social media gave Bloom & Wild an organic positive brand lift. Furthermore, Bloom & Wild decided to further spread the idea of empathetic, human communications by starting a Thoughtful Marketing Movement in 2020 — an organization now featuring over 100 brands who also commit to more ethical and considerate communication over aggressive sales-driven marketing.
For a long time, marketing in the flower industry was straightforward: schedule heavy-duty, catch-all promotions during every meaningful holiday — then reduce ad budgets during the “low tide”.
But savvier startups such as Bloom & Wild opted to take a different approach. And it looks like it's landing better in the current market conditions.
Consumers today buy flowers “just because”. They also favor convenient subscriptions and pre-programmed deliveries over last-moment runs to the high street boutiques. Men are no longer ordering ordinary red rose bouquets on a special date — they're selecting more thoughtful gifts and unique flower arrangements.
Bloom & Wild has already proved their ability to recognize and capitalize on early shifts in consumer behaviors, and they're excelling in practicing brand integrity. But as our data found, there’s still plenty of untapped audience segments and, hence, market opportunities for new movers and shakers to seize.