1-800-Flowers Is Using Brand Collaborations With NFL, Disney, Barbie & Lionsgate to Delight Customers and Reach New Audiences

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1-800-Flowers does not just sell Mother’s Day bouquets and sympathy arrangements. Consumers can choose a Barbie-inspired rollerskate full of flowers or an NFL team-themed party spread.

1-800-Flowers does not just sell Mother’s Day bouquets and sympathy arrangements. Consumers can choose a Barbie-inspired rollerskate full of flowers or an NFL team-themed party spread.

Through brand collaborations with entities including Lionsgate, Disney, Barbie and the NFL, the flower and gift delivery service is hoping to expand its offering to consumers to bring more variety and entertainment to gift offerings.

Ahead of the November 17 theatrical release of “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”, 1-800-Flowers.com partnered with Lionsgate to introduce a limited edition Hunger Games Magnificent Rose. The Disney partnership celebrates the company’s 100 year anniversary by letting consumers order nostalgia-inspired gifts.

“When you start to think about NFL, Disney, Barbie, these are iconic brands that have built relationships for decades, so we have an opportunity to partner with these businesses and bring new innovation to the market that the consumer is looking for,” said Abhay Patel, president of 1-800-Flowers.com. “We want to be able to provide consumers with something that gives that feeling of joy, that feeling of understanding the empathy of a great gift. These partners are spot on in terms of our strategy from an innovation perspective.”

Brand Innovators caught up with Patel to discuss these collaborations and what it means for the e-commerce brand. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the strategy behind working with partners like the NFL, Disney and Barbie? 

The brand partnerships first starts with us centralizing on the most important piece, which is our consumer. So really understanding what our consumers are looking for, what those unmet needs are. We've now created an innovation process, creating products that are ultimately going to be launching to deliver to those needs. As we go through that process, we say, ‘Hey, are there other brands that we think fit with our values that also elevate innovations in these products that we're bringing to the marketplace?’ The most important piece is nurturing those relationships.

How do you decide what these collaborations look like?

The NFL is very different from Disney versus Barbie. We know that football is a mainstay for our Harry and David business in the US. As we think about how customers get together, there are home tailgating parties that occur every Saturday, every Sunday. How do we ensure that those people going to those parties are bringing something where they're the winner for the host, whether it's bringing a platter or something floral. We did this whole piece with the NFL and the NCAA to be able to bring their teams to what the customers are looking for. If you're going to a Kansas City Chiefs homegate party, you go with that vase. Or we had some customers who went to rivalry parties and brought the opposing team-themed platter. There is a fun playfulness associated with that. The NFL is great because it also means we get an opportunity to launch a new plant with our fruit bouquets brand and tie into those events in those equities, as customers are walking into those parties. 

Barbie was a whole different piece. Talk about building on an iconic brand. We had an ongoing dialog with them and said this is about as perfect as it gets. We think about empowering women, and then bringing that floral piece forward. The activation plan was really about how we drive that engagement. We did a whole UGC video on social content that had the rollerskates. The roller skates with the floral were our most impactful piece of social content that we've had. We had over 150,000 unique views. 

Disney is a timeless, iconic brand with relationships with hundreds of millions of people. We are building on those relationships and bringing that joy forward. When we think about flowers, Mickey and the five friends –Donald, Daisy, Minnie, Mickey and Pluto. As we create these new products, we're trying to be true to the authenticity of the brand. As we bring newness and these partnerships forward, what we're trying to do is make sure that our customers have visibility earlier and access to these great new products, because this is what our customers are looking for.

How do these collaborations increase customer engagement? 

The increase in customer engagement always starts with making sure you're relevant. As we think about innovation and partnerships, we are ensuring that we're continuing to become relevant in the marketplace. Consumer behaviors and needs are constantly changing and the market constantly changes. If we don't evolve as a brand, then you lose that relevance. There is the relevancy of the moment, but then also it's an unexpected thing from us. It's different. We haven't done these things before. Part of it is making sure that we're doing this in a manner that's true to us, true to our consumers, and then bringing it forward a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

How does this tie into your approach to inspire and delight customers?

Our existing customers who have been with us for a long time, love that we provide great high-quality products with same day delivery. We've always been a brand that they've ultimately trusted and they've stayed with us for a long time. But their needs and wants continue to evolve. And so for us understanding that piece, and not just giving them the great Fields of Europe bouquet that they have loved for decades, but also giving them something new that fits those new needs in their lives to inspire and delight. People go through different life stages. If you were with us when you were in your thirties, now if you're in your fifties, there are different things that you need. We want to ensure that we're delighting today the same way we were 20 years ago, with these updated products with these partnerships.

How do these partnerships help you attract new customers?

When you think about the NFL, NCAA, Disney, Barbie, these are large platforms. Their customer reach is broad. We are the largest in the floral space. So for us, it's a natural tie in. There's a lot of access and opportunity for both sides to be able to bring in new customer bases on both ends, which is one of the things that was exciting across all of these partnerships in that conversation. 

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