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Research paper topic: I Love This Business, Exults Robert Kaynes Jr, Vice President Of Sales And Grandson Of The Founder At Bron Shoe, The Columbus - 1781 words
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.. ultifaceted. "There's light sentiment, thank you' sentiment, and holiday sentiment," says Gullickson. "Basically we can link flowers with any sentiment." FTD, as we now know it, was founded in 1910 by 15 retail florists who agreed to exchange orders for out-of-town deliveries via a relatively new medium--the telegraph. Prior to the formation of FTD, out-of-town floral orders were shipped by parcel post or train.
A little more than 80 years later, FTD is made up of more than 24,000 independent retail florist members in North America, all of them linked--by state-of-the-art technology--to florists in 142 countries. Also like Hallmark, FTD is responsible for a number of "firsts" that, although they seem simple in hindsight, have revolutionized the industry For example, it was the first floral wire service to create special bouquets that were standardized in advance of order placement, and it has led the way in developing cooperative partnerships with firms whose products are tied in with FTDs offerings. Today the company markets a Birthday Party Bouquet, as well as selections for Christmas, Mother's Day Valentines Day, and most other major holidays. It was also the first wire service to publish a selection guide with pictures of hundreds of floral arrangements to help consumers make appropriate choices. As Gullickson puts it, "FTD is consistent and deliverable.
We make it easy for consumers to express their feelings to anyone, anywhere in the world." As with greeting cards, the primary purchasers of flowers are women. "Even on Mother's Day," says Gullickson, "most women buy the flowers. Valentines Day is the only time we see a significant male shift." Also like Hallmark, FTD takes great pains to see to it that its members and logo are visible in locations women frequent. As a result, FTD is practically omnipresent; its one of Americas most enduring and successful small business enterprises, with more retail outlets than any other branded store-- including Amoco gas stations, General Motors dealerships, McDonalds and Burger King restaurants, 7-11 franchises, and Dominos Pizza parlors. SAY IT WITH FLOWERS FTD has invested considerable time and effort in researching the market, delving into the reasons why consumers buy flowers. It recently published its most current research revelations in a document called the Caring Survey, which catalogs what it terms "Americas Caring Moments." Here's just a small sample of the report's findings: The most popular flower-giving "occasions" are birthdays, get well, and new baby. The high volume days for buying flowers locally are Valentines Day and Mother's Day For sending flowers to out-of-town locales, the high volume seasons are the week preceeding Mother's Day and Christmas. The most successful "nonholiday product" is FTDs infamous "Pick-Me-Up" bouquet, inaugurated in 1984.
In addition to marketing simple flower arrangements for generic occasions, FTD's marketing department recently began creating "branded bouquets" marketed in association with major companies such as Campbells, M&M Mars, and Gerber. The Gerber tie-in for example, is called the "Bundle of Joy" bouquet; it celebrates a new baby's arrival with flowers and baby products. For Halloween, FTD customers can send a "BOOquet," which comes with a selection of Mars candy. The Campbell's tie-in is a "get well soon" theme and (naturally) includes a sample of Campbell's chicken soup. "We create new reasons to send flowers," notes Gullickson.
Given today's marketing clutter FTD's association with other recognized brands gives its products an added push. "Selling a product that's not a household word is like rowing a boat upstream," says Frank Delano, chairman of Delano Goldman & Young, a corporate and brand image consultant in New York. Gullickson, for one, agrees with Delanos assessment, adding that FTD sees nothing contradictory in pairing nonfloral products with its bouquets. "Rather than the flowers being the medium to express the sentiment," he says, "we want the experience to be the medium. To accomplish this, FTD has created separate "collections" of flowers that include the Affection Collection (the philosophy here being that you'd send your sweetheart a different type of bouquet than you would your mother), as well as numerous groupings of holiday-oriented products. When asked if the strategy has been successful, Gullickson notes that FTD sells four times as many bouquets with a prepackaged message than without. FTD has also stayed ahead of the curve (and ahead of its competition) through its use of catalogs, direct mail, and print and TV ad campaigns. The decision to use spokesperson Merlin Olsen was, according to Gullickson, a watershed event in FTD's history "It was really different having a male sports figure talk to consumers about flowers," he says.
On the other hand, FTD lost some of its marketing edge recently by waiting too long to jump into the toll-free arena. Companies like 800-FLOWERS have already made strong inroads in this new niche, although FTD's 800- SEND-FTD is scheduled to debut in mid-1993, supported by a $14 million ad campaign. Still, such temporary setbacks haven't discouraged FTD's megamarketing mania. In fact, the company recently entered the greeting card business with its acquisition of Renaissance Greeting Cards of Sanford, Me. "Renaissance," notes Gullickson, "is the first acquisition of a holding company created by FTD to expand its scope into the growing sentiment expression business." Hallmark is hereby put on notice. BRON-SHOE Like other midwestern cities hit hard by the Great Depression, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1929 wasn't the best place to be if you were looking for work.
Still, Violet Shinback needed a way to support her family, and she decided to try her hand at bronzing baby shoes after seeing some painted shoes at a neighbor's home. After learning how to do her own electroplating (a relatively new technique at the time) at a local job shop, she moved her fledgling business to Columbus and began selling her wares door-to-door, approaching houses that had children's toys strewn in the front yard. Before long, Shinbacks new business had become a lot more than Just a way to put bread on the family table. Today, the company Violet dubbed Bron-Shoe earns well over $8 million in sales a year, proving once again that sentiment--in all its many forms and functions--sells. According to her grandson, Robert Kaynes Jr., vice president of sales at Bron-Shoe, Violet Shinback (still living) created an American fad. "Before her, people used to stuff shoes with tissue paper and put them in a box," he explains.
Why on earth did she consider bronzing in the first place? No doubt practicality and price were part of the equation, although the company's sales literature would have us believe that it was at least partly a sentimental decision: "It's over too quickly. The special time that begins when you count your newborn's tiny toes. A flurry of fast- paced months later your baby takes the first halting steps into childhood. A time you want to always remember is gone forever." Thus, having planted the seeds of sentiment, the brochure then urges you to "Capture that memory in a way that can't dim." It obviously works. Even though bronzed shoes represent only a tiny fraction of the sentiment expression industry, this niche has maintained an impressive growth rate of between 10% and 15% a year, says Kaynes. WE SELL MEMORIES In addition to footwear (which these days isn't limited to baby shoes, but includes sneakers, cowboy boots, and other historically significant foot fashions), Bron- Shoe uses its electroplating process to bond just about any metal (gold, silver, bronze, etc.--and even porcelain) onto virtually any object.
what kinds of things are people preserving for posterity? A short list provided by Kaynes included desk sets, bookends, household items, paper-weights, bottles, balls, gloves, skates, footballs, golf balls, baseball caps, NFL helmets--even athletic supporters. "The strangest things we've ever bronzed were an accident victims full body cast (for a South American customer) and a six-inch wide clove of garlic (for a reputed New Jersey mobster)," says Kaynes. In fact, this is one of the secrets of Bron- Shoes success: "Our strength is that we do small quantities," says Kaynes. "we have no set up fee, no minimum." Naturally, this policy has enticed corporate customers into bronzing items for their employees. For instance, Wendys restaurants had bronzed spatulas, General Electric requested bronzed light bulbs, The Limited did shirts, and TRW has even bronzed pistons and oil drill bits. Kaynes feels the reason bronzing is viewed as sentimental is that "its the actual item--we take it and make an award out of it.
It's their product, and its much more memorable than a trophy. People want the real thing preserved. They want to be able to say 'That's the ball I hit over the fence' or 'Those are the baby shoes my child took his first steps in.'" Asked how Bron-Shoe gets its message out to potential customers, Kaynes notes that the Violet Shinback method is still being used. In fact, Bron-Shoes "senti-metal" division employs 400 independent sales reps who go door-to-door, offering the company's services to consumers and corporations around the world. In addition, Bron-Shoe maintains a presence--under its own name--in department stores, jewelry stores, childrens clothing shops, and childrens shoe stores, and the company's American bronzing division makes extensive use of direct mail and gift certificates, contributing up to 50% of the company's overall profits.
Bron-Shoe also regularly sets up booths at flea markets and county fairs--a marketing strategy that some would no doubt call unsophisticated, although John Lister, a partner at Lister Butler, a New York brand and image consulting firm notes that "Small marketers, almost by definition, have to resort to some kind of breakthrough promotion, be it in the media, on the shelf, or elsewhere." Will sentiment ever cease to sell? Not according to Bob Kaynes: "People are very, very sentimental," he says. "They'll do anything--even bronzing--to preserve a moment, a feeling, an item. And if you need further proof that sentiment continues to permeate every facet of society, consider the case of Lawrence Taylor, the New York Giants preeminent outside linebacker, a guy who obviously doesn't consider himself a particularly sentimental person. After a dozen bone-crushing years, "L.T." declared 1992 to be his last season (an announcement made even before he tore his Achilles tendon last October). Asked to reflect on his career prior to his last game ever with the arch rival Washington Redskins, Taylor didn't hesitate to spit out his opinion: "If you're looking for someone to get sentimental," growled history's fiercest defensive player, "its not me. To hell with the past.
The past doesn't mean @#$%." Or does it? Recently, L.T. displayed what some might consider a more sentimental side by consenting to donate his football helmet to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. What do the people in Canton have planned for this historical piece of sports memorabilia? They're having it bronzed, of course.
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