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.
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 are 4X-5X higher than the year before.
As marketers, we know that firm demand is a good season for planting new campaign seeds to reap quick gains. 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 do counterintuitive things to better connect 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 DTC 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) by 2017.
During the first weeks of 2021, Bloom & Wild closed a $102 million funding round. The new cash injection went towards further expansion in new European markets, investment in technology, and bullish user acquisition.
So what stands behind Bloom & Wild’s success and how other floral businesses can capitalize on the spiked consumer demand? Our data suggest three factors that are crucial 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 act 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 is just eight years in the market. 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. 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 of flatpack bouquets, carefully packed in a box that fits a letterbox.
Over the years, the product team also experimented with other “letterbox-fitting” products — orchid plants, Christmas wreaths, and finally the mini Christmas tree. The first two flopped, but 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.
The product was hyper-successful, so Bloom & Wild relaunched it every year since. In 2020, they also did a creative “design your mini Christmas tree” competition where they asked their audience (both adults and kids) to send over their design for the team to visualize.
Source: Bloom and Wild
A product, solving a real problem, creative marketing, and distinctive brand positioning has helped Bloom & Wild secure the audience’s attention and more importantly — sway their decisions to pick Bloom and Wild over “household name” competition.
2. Align Your Positioning and Communication with Customer Values
We found that Bloom & Wild hit 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 competition. At the bottom of the brand funnel, 33%of this audience are using this service.
So why is Bloom & Wild 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 more money on self-care than any other generators. In response to the uncertainty, many dialed up spending on therapeutic routines — be it meditation, skincare, personal coaching, or regular flower deliveries.
Bloom & Wild caught wind of this trend early on. Given that most of its bouquets are 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 emotional language used in the copy, also helped Bloom & Wild engage and retain millennial women.
Secondly, Bloom & Wild are also strategically encouraging their users 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 no-special occasion orders. Among them, 162,000 contained the word “brighten” in the accompanying delivery message. This further attests that more people are ordering flowers as a personal “pick-me-up” and “small gestures” 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 buyers. 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.
That’s curious. In-the-know male customers also develop a strong brand affinity for Bloom & Wild, but they are 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 tells that 60% of ecommerce subscribers in the US, for example, are urban-dwelling, middle or upper-middle-class women. Hence it’s easy for new entrants to auto-assume that they should target females too.
But such group-think can lead to missed profits. Bloom & Wild, as well as other online florists, should look more into non-obvious audience segments if they want to grow their market presence.
For example, we found a very promising target audience category using our brand tracking tool. Drum roll...it’s British men aged above 56.
Interestingly, this cohort already has a higher brand awareness than the youngsters — 13% vs 8% among millennial males. They are 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 that. Also, their awareness may stem from the gifters — the better halves and family members who are using this brand to send “a token” while being separated by distance and travel restrictions.
Like other florists, Bloom & Wild does 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, but surely bold, decision has 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 audience was overwhelmingly messaging them words of gratitude for such a considerate move.
The positive sentiment on social media gave Bloom and Wild a positive brand lift organically. Furthermore, Bloom and 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 opt to build another brand story. And it looks like their approach is 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 select more thoughtful gifts and unique flower arrangements.
Bloom & Wild already did a good job with recognizing and capitalizing on early shifts in consumer behaviors. They are also 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.