Baskets full of benefits from analytics

111-Harry-DavidWith as much as I travel, I have to confess that I’ve become a bit of a food snob. And for good reason, I might add. Two days in a Chilean hospital will make anyone stick with what they know and trust. After that experience, it was just me and my McVitie’s for the next few days, thank you.

Maybe that’s why there’s just something so great to me about giving, or getting, a gift basket. When I’m the giver, it’s a fast and easy way to make sure my present hits the mark with custom-picked goodies. When I’m the getter, I know it’s a treat hand-chosen with my tastes in mind that keeps on giving as long as my self-control allows.

American retailer Harry & David is a known and trusted leader in gourmet gifts, including baskets, towers and more. Simply say the name and anyone within earshot is likely to start salivating as they think about pears, nuts, truffles and the “killer app” of snack foods: Moose Munch®.

But in a down economy, quality treats that pamper and please are some of the first extras to go, and that was certainly true for customers of Harry & David. The 2008 downturn led to a 2011 bankruptcy for the company as loyal customers had to tighten their gift-giving belts – but now it’s back in a big way. And the gourmet gurus did it with the help of SAS.

Harry & David was already good at meeting customer needs, as proven by its long history of market leadership. But with mismatched systems and disconnected data sets, they found they were having to work harder and harder to hear what their customers were trying to tell them. So they invested in more advanced analytics to look at the customer life cycle. And what they found was that some customers are thinking about the brand year-round, while others only want to use Harry & David for specific occasions.

As Paul Lazorisak, Vice President of Customer Marketing, notes of the latter group, “They love us at Christmas, but only at Christmas. Try to have a conversation with them about Mother’s Day or Easter and you not only waste resources, you risk driving them away.”

Very precise segmentation is the answer. SAS helped Harry & David identify the customers with the most potential and move them up the value chain. As a result, customer retention has improved 14 percent, sales per customer have risen 7 percent, and the number of loyal, high-value customers has gone up 10 percent.

Fine food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so helping Harry & David deliver their unique brand of joy to more and more people just feels good. I love partnering with companies throughout the Americas to make a great thing even better. Hmmm, maybe I’ll take a moment to celebrate that warm, fuzzy feeling with some Moose Munch.

Read the full version of the Harry & David success story at sas.com.

Follow me on Twitter: @CarlTFarrell

tags: advanced analytics, Analytics, customer intelligence, customer loyalty, economic downturn, retention

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