Back in the Dough
The exterior view portrayed a strong, stable company — a well-oiled machine churning along toward future profits and continued success. The interior showed an entirely different story — a company crumbling just like one of its cookies. Mrs. Fields’ early success actually led to the downturn of its catalog direct/online unit.
With that early success and rapid growth, Mrs. Fields didn’t invest properly in the infrastructure (marketing database, systems, tracking) of the direct division, says Greg Berglund, president of Salt Lake City-based Mrs. Fields Gifts. What’s more, the company failed to keep product offerings fresh and relevant, especially the refreshing of photography and item newness.
“The company grew very rapidly,” says catalog consultant Coy Clement, who worked with Berglund and Mrs. Fields Gifts for much of 2006. “My impression was that the controls within the business and sort of the technical underpinning of the business were not very strong when Greg came in.”
Berglund joined Mrs. Fields Gifts in August 2005, a time when the company was struggling to serve its customers properly. At the same time, Mrs. Fields Gifts’ product relevancy was declining. This made it difficult for the company to retain its customers. And with the cost of acquiring customers increasing, the 12-month housefile was taking a substantial hit.
What’s more, the catalog division was considered an afterthought. “Mrs. Fields’ direct marketing business isn’t its core mission,” Berglund says. “It’s an ancillary business. So the corporate energy was on the franchised retail stores. It was just milked.”
Building a Change
To get the direct marketing business back on track, Mrs. Fields hired Berglund, who was fresh from helping turn around Disney’s catalog and e-commerce operations. “Ownership — the CEO and the executive committee — noticed there was a great opportunity here in the direct marketing business,” Berglund says. “They realized they’d been underinvesting in it and saw a great future if they got behind it.”