In addition to a new website, Wolferman’s has transformed its brand voice to be more inviting, casual and bakery-focused. It unveiled the changes (and much of its 2019 seasonal collection) in late September in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season.
Harry & David CMO Michelle Farabaugh described the new look as “an immersive, virtual bakery experience complete with brimming display cases of mouth-watering pastries and daily menu specials.”
The updated logo features a wispy font encircled by a wheat stalk, with the tagline ‘Always open. Always good,’ which harnesses the power of the internet’s 24/7 nature.
“The repositioning is an important part of our strategy to introduce new consumers to the brand,” Farabaugh told BakeryandSnacks. It also aims to target shoppers looking for gifts throughout the year and for various occasions outside of the holidays.
Harry & David undertook ‘a great deal’ of consumer and industry research to understand how to better connect with the modern online shopper, she explained. That data “revealed a prime opportunity for us to raise awareness of the Wolferman’s Bakery brand, capitalizing on positive perceptions” that Wolferman’s is a ‘quality purveyor’ of baked goods.
Replicating a real bakery in style and substance
The online marketplace has changed dramatically since Wolferman’s was acquired by Harry & David in 2008. It became essential for the brand to build ‘an authoritative bakery voice,’ Farabaugh told us.
Wolferman’s is best known for its English muffins – and for its gift baskets after 1-800-FLOWERS acquired Harry & David in 2014 – but its catalog reveals a range of more than 200 baked goods, including pastries, desserts and dinner or brunch entrees.
“Positioning the brand as a real bakery is critical to appeal to a broader range of shoppers,” said Farabaugh, especially to “reinforce the message that customers have 24/7 access to the same fresh taste… they’d find in a local bakery, with the convenience of at-home delivery.”
Wolferman’s has introduced four new flavors of bundt cakes - Cranberry Orange, Chocolate Peppermint, Apple Pecan and Banana & Chocolate - to its portfolio. Other new products include mini English muffins, an Italian Herb & Cheese pull-apart bread and an 'everything' bagel with lox and cream cheese.
For brunch, new offerings range from a Sun-dried Tomato & Feta quiche to Marionberry sweet rolls and Ham & Cheese croissants. Many of these products are available gluten-free, noted Farabaugh.
As ecommerce flips traditional retail models on their heads, revamping an established brand like Wolferman's “[raises] awareness of our expertise and authority as bakers,” she added.
Industry experts have noted the pointed challenge of selling baked goods online: the loss of smell and sight, which usually draws shoppers in.
Farabaugh said Wolferman’s hopes its new website “[replicates] the familiar ambiance of a favorite local bakery,” augmented by vivid photos and a ‘friendly, authoritative’ voice. The brand has also added content under titles like ‘Baker’s Tips’ and ‘Inside Scoop’ to boost that message, and will take advantage of the videos and visuals on social media channels to show customers the baking process. (Wolferman’s quickly freezes its products after baking.)
Ultimately, Farabaugh added, the company wants consumers to think of Wolferman’s not just for gifts but also for everyday baked goods. That duality is ‘essential’ to the brand’s story and reputation, she said.
Since 1888, English muffins and so much more
Fred Wolferman first sold the brand’s signature product from a Kansas City grocery store in 1888; he used tuna cans as molds and cooked the muffins on a fire-powered griddle. He expanded the bakery to eight stores with 500 employees.
The last brick-and-mortar location closed in 1984, nearly 25 years before Harry & David took over the brand. 1-800-FLOWERS bought Harry & David in 2014.
Like any business reliant on holiday gifting, 1-800-FLOWERS typically hires an estimated 8,000 temporary workers to handle the seasonal surge. The parent company also acquired Shari’s Berries in August for $20.5m.
These recent decisions appear to be paying off for 1-800-FLOWERS, which in August reported more than an 8% uptick in annual revenue to $1.25bn. It expects another 8% to 9% boost in 2020.
Revenues in the Gourmet Foods and Gift Baskets segment, which includes all of Harry & David, jumped more than 20% in the fourth quarter (a period that included Easter).
1-800-FLOWERS continues to attract new customers to its various platforms, according to the recent earnings report, with more than three million new visitors in fiscal year 2019. More than half of the site’s 7.2m buyers were repeat customers.
“These results reflect our intense focus on execution and innovation – in our digital marketing programs, in merchandizing programs that emphasize new product development and in our initiatives to constantly improve our business platform to enhance our operating leverage,” said CEO Chris McCann.