1-800-Flowers.com has launched an online “sweet spot” for chocolate lovers, filling a portfolio gap created after the $115-million sale of Fannie May and Harry London brands to Ferrero Group earlier this year.
Called Simply Chocolate, the platform offers opportunities to purchase gift products developed through collaboration between 1-800-Flowers and a dozen high-end chocolate brands vetted by the online gifting company. But it goes much further, says Steve Druckman, president of 1-800-Flowers’ Midwest Food Group.
“We’re trying to build a destination — not just somewhere where you’re going to go, buy a quick gift, and get out,” he said. “We really want people to celebrate it.”
Each partner brand will have a page highlighting its unique story and mission, in addition to featuring products 1-800-Flowers and the partner brands developed or selected together. 1-800-Flowers will also introduce informational content and encourage customers to share their experiences on social media under the #SimplyChocolate tag.
So far, Chuao Chocolatier, Ghirardelli, Godiva, Long Grove Confectionery, Max Brenner, Neuhaus, Norman Love, The Sweet Shop and Vosges Haut-Chocolat have signed on. And, of course, the list includes Fannie May and Harry London.
Druckman, who served as president of Fannie May before the brand and associated assets transferred to Ferrero in May, said 1-800-Flowers didn’t want to leave the premium chocolate category as soon as the sale closed. The company did, however, want to take a different approach.
1-800-Flowers began working on Simply Chocolate just about immediately, pulling together the concept, brand partnerships, web design and initial product offerings together in six months. Druckman said the company wanted to feature a mix of well-known brands it has worked with before — such as Fannie May, Harry London and Godiva — and lesser-known brands producing premium products.
“We don’t only want the marquee names. We want to go out and find the great chocolatiers of the world,” he said. “We have such great capability on the gifting side, the design side that we can help them get this to market.”
A panel of chocolate “experts” will evaluate potential partner brands, but more won’t be added until after the platform’s initial launch and the coinciding holiday season, Druckman said.
“We’re going to be very methodical about how we onboard brands,” he said. “When brands come on, we’re going to give them a lot of focus so that we can highlight the brands and tell the brand’s story to our customers.”
In addition to the digital platform, 1-800-Flowers has developed Simply Chocolate branded items with help from participating companies. Among the items under the namesake brand are chocolate-dipped Oreos, cake pops, fudge and a variety of confections in gift baskets and tins.
Launching the platform is only half the battle, however. To get customers’ attention, Simply Chocolate will appear at the top of 1-800-Flowers’ homepage alongside its other brands, such as The Popcorn Factory, Cheryl’s Cookies and Harry & David. The company also plans to send email announcements to existing customers and introduce Simply Chocolate on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Druckman hopes customers will turn to Simply Chocolate for both their gifting needs and to express their love for chocolate.
“We want to sell, and obviously selling product is important to what we do, but we also want the eyeballs and we want the passion here,” he said.