Aron Gelbard, The New Flower Movement. Today we take a look at reinventing the flower power movement for a new generation, making it possible for people to have flowers in their lives, all the time. For more ideas on Uprising and movements, cultural movements and movement marketing, follow Uprising!!! on Facebook. We’ll continue to publish brand-new columns on a regular basis. Hey, do us a favor and please give Uprising!!! a review on iTunes. Scott Goodson is the author of best-selling book ‘Uprising: how to build a brand and change the world by sparking cultural movements,’ available on Amazon.com. Scott has helped create and build some of the world’s most iconic brands. He is founder of StrawberryFrog the world’s first movement marketing agency.
Uprising Interview transcript
TEASE: I think the movement allows you to communicate through technology and through flower gifting which isn’t going away and won’t go away. If you find out a friend maybe had a promotion or a new house or having a baby–these important moments in life– you could just send a WhatsApp or double tap their Instagram, but as you said yourself, people have been gifting flowers for centuries. We want to make sending flowers as easy as sending that What’s App message. It’s that much more fulfilling. That’s the approach we’ve taken.
In the 19th century during the Victorian era, people would send each other flowers to communicate. Everything had a meeting: the size, the color, the type of flower, the placement of each in the vase; it all meant something. In fact, there were flower dictionaries to help decode the messages in each delivery.
The Victorians weren’t the first to use flowers to communicate. Ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese show signs of flower giving in their stories.
So, flower giving isn’t something new. Now, we give them to mom on Mother’s Day or to a lover to show our love or to show our condolences.
Today on the Uprising pod, we have someone who is trying to revolutionize the flower movement with his company Bloom & Wild. Please welcome Aron Gelbard. Thank you Aron for being here.
ARON: Of course. I am happy to be here.
SCOTT: If flowers have been around for centuries, how is Bloom & Wild breathing new air into this age-old industry and sparking a movement?
ARON: Great question. Like you said, fower giving has been around for many thousands of years. That was one of the reasons why we were confident that it’s not going to go away in the next many years and why it appealed to us. I guess our observations were that flower buying is a very Google-led shopping mission at the moment. Other categories like take away or car service used to also be Google led. But, in recent years brands have evolved to use technology to create fantastic customer experiences and built emotional connections with customers. These brands are in categories that are a lot less emotives than flowers buying, which we do a few times a year. We hope that we build a brand that people love and depend on technology and logistics to create a brand that people love.
SCOTT: Your business reached such great success, but what movement are you trying to create with this business? What is the wrong that you are trying to right?
ARON: We think flower buying should be a moment of joy for the gifter and a serendipitous moment for the recipient. I guess the wrong that we are trying to right is a flower gift buyer feeling frustrated rather than elevated at the end of a purchase. More importantly, a flower recipient receiving a bouquet of flowers and feeling disappointed and having something to hide from the person giving them the gift rather than having something they are proud to share that something made their day.
SCOTT: Have you ever been that frustrated flower giver when trying to order flowers?
ARON: Yes, I have. That is the one of the reasons I did start the business. I found buying flowers online in the past–and I still do find flower buying around the world is a real challenge. It’s difficult to choose between options. It’s expensive. There are hidden costs. You’re not sure what you see is what it’s actually going to be when it arrives. You don’t know if it is going to be delivered successfully. You don’t actually know if the flowers are going to actually be delivered as what you see when you’re placing your order online. Those are all things that don’t need to be in the big case and that we are actually addressing.
SCOTT: The millennial generation or Gen Z are most powerful in energizing a movement. Why should the millennial generation care about the movement you created with Bloom & Wild?
ARON: I think that the millennial generation are much more so than their parent’s generation, much more likely to be mobile in terms of where they lived and often they move to another city to pursue opportunity and travel. They are more likely to explore more horizons. They are less likely to clutter up their premises with a lot of stuff. They often live in a lot of smaller spaces and in cities. They will be busy. They will often be pursuing careers that give afford rapid success but not a lot of spare time. For people like that, I think the ability to have a flower company or go-to gift that they can trust enables them to stay connected with their parents, friends, and family that are geographically far to them in a way that is easy on mobile. It’s something that people need because it needs that they don’t have the guilt of being separated and not paying attention to family.
SCOTT: Before this, you started out as a consultant at Bain Capital and then transitioned into entrepreneurship. Was there a cultural insight that drove you from your corporate office and into the world of flowers and entrepreneurship?
ARON: I grew up basically as an only child and I moved to the UK as a young child from overseas. I think that made me worry and obsessed with pleasing people. I came from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandads were entrepreneurs. I always wanted to start something one day. But, I wanted it to be something that would genuinely make a positive difference. I wasn’t clever enough or educated enough to cure a disease. My scope for doing this was limited. I thought the flower category was an opportunity to bring happiness to people and that was something that motivated me to leave the Bain life behind and go out and start something.
SCOTT: Not only did you bring happiness to the flower industry, you also brought your experience from Bain Capital. You created a tech-focused, data-driven, and modern company. How did this technology help your movement succeed?
ARON: I don’t think a movement can succeed without technology nowadays. I think people discover everything through technology. It’s almost a given. It’s not that if you have great tech, you’ll succeed. It’s if you don;t tech, then you don’t have a chance. Once you have great tech, then you will need to have other things that others expect. You need to give people something that will make them love you. I think the ease of technology is a big part of it. I think our floristry and our branding is a big part of it. I think it is partly care and attention to detail put into our customer service and physical product. And then, it’s partly the innovation and delivery method and getting flowers to people’s mailboxes.
SCOTT: Say I am on the market for a bouquet of flowers for my mother, why is it easier and more innovative to order from Bloom & Wild rather than your competitors?
ARON: We made it possible to order flowers in literally seconds. We really paired down the amount of questions we really need to ask a customer and the amount of typing a customer needs to do, especially on a mobile device. We did this in a few ways. Firstly, there are all sorts of questions that companies ask that you don’t need to ask. For example, you don’t need to ask for a billing address, yet a lot of companies do so to gather data. You don’t need to ask somebody for their name if they are a returning customer via their email address. Asking for the name is a redundant piece of information. When you’re on a crowded train on your way home trying to order flowers for your mother’s birthday tomorrow, taking out some of that typing which you have to do with one hand while holding on to the train with the other. It’s a big difference. It makes it a lot easier. In addition, there is a lot of information that is stored natively on our mobile devices. The devices know the addresses of our loved ones. They know when the birthdays of our loved ones are. They know our payment details. All of those things are available yet people type them into their devices again and again countless times. By investing in mobile and explaining the benefits of interacting with us on mobile rather than on a computer, that’s critical nowadays.
SCOTT: Movements have a language of their own. Unlike other flower companies, you deliver flowers in letterboxes, and they arrive preassembled. What has been the response to flowers being delivered in such a way?
ARON: When we started, we thought people would accept flowers through the letterbox and arranging themselves because we thought letterbox delivery would be convenient. One of the things that most surprised us was actually we are almost exclusively a gifting company and instead of people thinking that unarranged flowers are not a suitable gift. Instead we learned women like to gift to other women gifts that they would like to receive themselves. While men gifting to women that comes with a preconception that women like to receive a big bunch of flowers, actually women understand that women enjoy the creative process of having input into the final product. As a result, we have ended up being a gifting company and I think the fact that we have our products in this format is not only convenient in the terms of delivery, it’s also has this added benefit of allowing recipients to engage in the creative process of floristry.
SCOTT: As we know, movements need to be fluid and ready for change. You know that first hand, as you just touched upon this. What was it like starting this business and thinking it was going to be something and then realizing that it was something else? What was that transition like?
ARON: When we started, we were focused on self purchased flower subscriptions. We thought people would want flowers regularly because they die and you need a replacement and they would immediately come through the flower box. We had some sales but not huge sales but then we thought about making it possible to order one off gifts as well. We added a second call to action on our homepage saying “send as a gift.” Immediately, 90% of orders were gift orders and 10% of orders were self purchased subscription orders. We started to scale. We were really able to use that customer data and insight to achieve customer market fares. As a result of that, we needed to change our economic model. We changed our price point upwards significantly since we started in order to remain competitive. The economics as a gifting company are quite different because you aren’t able to make back your investment and acquiring a customer over a number of deliveries. You have to see that you will do it in one or two deliveries. On the other hand, when you’re committing to something being a part of your monthly household budgets, and it’s your mother’s birthday once a year, you’ll maybe going to be a little more generous. This customer insight not only helped us achieve product market fare but also made us rethink what type of flowers we do, what price we do, how we display them. We message thing to customers on our site, app and email.
SCOTT: How important would you say is it to adapt as your movement changes?
ARON: It is critical to adapt as your movement changes. I think one of the things that created an opportunity for us are the other flower companies that have not adapted at the same pace we have. Be that embracing technology. Be that new packaging. Be that embracing new products or personalization.
SCOTT: As we discussed at the top of the show, flowers have been used as a form of communication for centuries. But, today we mainly communicate through technology. Why is it important to keep these older, more traditional forms of communications alive?
ARON: I don’t think we are at odds with each other. I think the movement allows you to communicate through technology and through flower gifting which isn’t going away and won’t goa way. If you find out a friend maybe had a promotion or a new house or having a baby–these important moments in life– you could just send a WhatsApp or double tap their Instagram, but as you said yourself, people have been gifting flowers for centuries. We want to make sending flowers as easy as sending that What’s App message. It’s that much more fulfilling. That’s the approach we’ve taken. As a result, we got the best of both worlds.
SCOTT: You keep saying flowers are so powerful. Why are flowers and your movement so powerful?
ARON: I think there is an inherent joy and beauty in beautiful things. I wish I understood why that was the case. But, we as human beings are attracted to things that are beautiful. We like to cuddle up with beautiful people. We like to travel to beautiful places. We like to eat beautiful food. We like to look at beautiful art and architecture. I am confident that we are. I think flowers are beautiful thing that nature creates that are easy to deliver and easy to transport. They come to symbolize emotions. Flowers will be around for thousands of years to come just as they have been around thousands of years already.
SCOTT: Currently, you only operate in the UK. Where do you see your movement growing?
ARON: We are in the very early stages of expanding across Europe. We launched in France a few days ago. We are in the process of launching in Germany. We see a lot of similarities across those markets. There’s a lot we can do from London. There’s a lot of talent here. We are focusing on Europe and then beyond. I think the problems we are solving are universal and flowers are remarkably a universal gifting phenomenon. Delivery and supply change is a universal problem as well. Bloom & Wild is extremely exportable.
SCOTT: This was great. Where can listeners go to find out more about you and Bloom & Wild?
ARON: Bloom & Wild is visible on our website at bloomandwild.com or on the app store or play store. Subscribe to our newsletter via those channels and get regular updates. We are always innovating floristry and we have great social presence with beautiful content there too.
SCOTT: Thank you so much, Aron.
ARON: Thanks, Bye.