How Harry & David Shares Their Experience & Connects With Customers

For this chapter of our keynote series, we were fortunate to be joined by Michelle Farabaugh, CMO of the gifting giant, Harry & David.

In her keynote address, Farabaugh emphasizes the importance of sharing your brand experience - not just in a social media sense, but more broadly, and at a more personal level.

A Starting Point for Sharing

Unique selling points and signature products are common currency in the retail ecosphere. As such, public familiarity with - and recognition of - household name brands is an ideal starting point for sharing your brand identity with others. For Harry & David, gift baskets of Royal Riviera Pears, Moose Munch Popcorn, sumptuous wines, and other products serve this purpose.

However, too much of an association in the public eye with a certain product or market segment isn't necessarily a good thing, especially if you're looking to transform your organization digitally, culturally, or internally.

Being forever labeled as the "holiday gifting brand" wasn't enough for Harry & David. The company wanted a differentiation in the market that it could own.

At Harry & David, the buyer in most instances isn't the end consumer. Typically, purchases are made as gifts for friends, family, or acquaintances. The challenge was to create a dialog not only with the gift givers, but with the entire population of consumers.

Sharing Is the Key

The easiest way to initiate such a dialog is through sharing.

Launched last fall during the Harvest Festival at the Harry & David orchards, the company's sharing initiative takes in all of the brand's touchpoints, and creates a medium for hearing what's important to the brand's customers.

Dubbed "Share More", the project puts a spotlight on how Harry & David operates behind the scenes - and creates new avenues for transparency and engagement with the brand as well. Videos, social events, and sweepstakes all contribute to telling the Harry & David story while inviting customers to be a part of it.

This approach pays dividends. Last year, despite having only a third of the number of social media posts as the year before, Harry & David's engagement levels doubled, indicating that quality wins over quantity when you make an emotional connection with the consumer and truly differentiate your brand.

Humanizing the Brand

Harry & David has been using Instagram Stories, 360-degree videos, and animated GIFs to talk about its core values and throw a spotlight on associates.

Presenting your brand as an organization made up of actual thinking and feeling human beings is essential to creating emotional connections with consumers - and, ultimately, in forming relationships with them.

Creating Dialog

Enabling consumers to respond to what you share is the final piece of the picture. Invite feedback, encourage comments, and engage. Social channels are an ideal medium for this - be they Facebook posts, Instagram feeds, or whatever they may be.

As Farabaugh puts it: "Life is absolutely better when it's shared with others."

For more insights, join us at eTail Boston, happening this August 19 -22 at the Sheraton Boston! eTail is four days of action-packed stories, conversations, and connections with the top minds at America's most successful retailers. Download the agenda here for full details.

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