“A couple of years ago,” recalled Ken Harris, CEO of Carson, Calif.-based food gifts cataloger Mrs. Beasley’s, “Mrs. Beasley’s was in the toilet.” But like a rundown West Hollywood apartment overhauled to become a posh and highly sought-after condo, the $17 million Mrs. Beasley’s has undergone a dramatic overhaul over the past couple of years and has turned an 8 percent sales decline into a 25 percent increase. In a session at last week’s ACCM conference in Boston, Harris and two consultants he worked with explained how.
The 29-year-old company, which has historically served many Hollywood celebrities and studios (its first-ever customer was Barbra Streisand, Harris pointed out), gave its catalog a drastic overhaul, brought out a number of new products while expanding existing lines that focus groups said they loved.
“We wanted to build on the fact that we’re a premier marketer of fresh-baked gift baskets,” Harris said during his presentation. “We’re expensive, but we’re good, very much like a Godiva Chocolatier.” Doing so wasn’t so simple, as Mrs. Beasley’s caters to a largely B-to-B clientele.
So Harris’ company focused on the following key points:
* take ownership of the fresh-basked gifting category
* focus on its brand
* resist the temptation to become a food ‘Gifts ’r’ Us’, which, Harris noted, Mrs. Fields and Cheryl & Co. have become
* consistent execution across channels — catalog, Web and retail — with product development and merchandising
* emphasize its emerging popular line of cupcakes.
Harris turned to four key industry veterans for help: public relations veteran David Beckwith, catalog consultant Coy Clement and the catalog creative consulting team of Sarah Fletcher and Jeff Ryan. In examining Mrs. Beasley’s financials, Clement said during the same presentation, “I tried to understand what was selling, trying to see the longtime value of customers, looking for those high-leveraging places. The first thing was to figure out what was driving the business, how to set priorities,” he said. “And for me, that was developing more product. You have to stand for something and Mrs. Beasley’s stands for baked goods and a premium feeling.”