Vera Bradley refines pricing, marketing with online insight
New York — Specialty retailer Vera Bradley has helped boost the revenue and margins generated by its recently launched line of baby accessories by obtaining advance insight from consumers about what they would pay for certain products and also what features most interested them.
In a session at this week’s Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago, Stephanie Scheele, senior director of intelligence for Vera Bradley, explained how her company benefited from using the First Insight cloud-based consumer analytics solution to help refine its go to market strategy for baby accessories.
“We had an 18-month go-to-market strategy and started using First Insight about 16 months out,” said Scheele. “We had no product designs or photos, so we used CADs to email customers and ask them what they would pay for certain items.”
Scheele said Vera Bradley explained to customers how important their insight was to the product launch and also used gamification elements by framing the questions as a game called “What Would You Pay?” One fact the retailer discovered was that customers were willing to pay a dollar more for a stuffed bunny toy than it had anticipated.
“We increased our revenue 8% in the indirect channel and 6% in the direct channel just from that one dollar increase,” said Scheele. “Overall, we increased our revenue 4% based on pricing changes from customer insights.”
In addition, customer comments helped Vera Bradley better target the marketing of its baby products.
“We had a baby bottle caddy and the number one survey question was whether it was insulated, which ir was, but we hadn’t included that fact in the marketing until that point.”
Scheele said Vera Bradley historically segments its customers to ensure the proper consumers are reviewing the proper items and also still runs as many as nine online insight programs at any one time. Insights are closed after receiving 200 responses, which can happen in as little as an hour.
Dole wants America to have a banana
WESTKLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Dole is on a 4,800-mile banana truck tour in an attempt to get Americans to eat more fruits and veggies, namely bananas. Company representatives will travel for a total of 102 days in a pink-and-turquoise truck during the Peel the Love Summer Food Truck Tour.
The truck will stop at supermarkets, public events and other venues. Dole representatives will offer banana recipes, recipe cards, product samples and other free giveaways, such as Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk, Dole Fruit Bowls and Dole Squish’ems product samples; banana-themed coloring books, T-shirts, hats and discount coupons and brochures. Healthy-eating experts will also lead nutritional rallies, games and contests at after-school centers and other nonprofits in select cities.
Co-sponsoring the trip are Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Dole Packaged Foods featuring Dole Fruit Bowl and Dole Squish’ems.
The truck will stop in Seattle; Sacramento, Calif.; Los Angeles; Phoenix; Houston; Des Moines, Iowa; Baltimore/Washington, D.C. and New York City, all of which, according to the company, enjoy significantly higher per-capita banana consumption than the national average.
The tour is targeting health-, fitness- and lifestyle-oriented consumers and partnering with retailers to suggest new serving, pairing and entertaining options.
The truck will be outfitted with oversized screens that showcase a variety of educational videos showing the journey of bananas from the field to the store.
“After months of planning, we’re excited to finally be hitting the road to take our message that bananas and nutrition can be fun to cities from coast to coast,” explained Bil Goldfield, communications manager of Dole Fresh Fruit. “We’ll be bringing free samples, coupons and compelling new recipes to banana lovers at public events, nonprofit agencies and some of the most popular supermarkets in America.”
“The Peel the Love Food Truck Tour is a perfect fit for healthy-eating brands like Dole and Blue Diamond,” said Suzanne Hagener, senior marketing manager of Blue Diamond Almond Breeze. “Now, instead of just reading about healthy summer eating, families from Seattle to New York City can see firsthand just how simple and healthy summertime cooking and entertaining can be.”
Gymboree Corporation’s Q1 net sales dip
SAN FRANCISCO — The Gymboree Corporation is looking to leverage the rebounding economy and trends for the rest of 2013, following a dip in its net sales for the first quarter ended May 4.
The company reported net sales of $293 million for the quarter, a 1.7% decrease from $298 million for the first quarter ended April 28, 2012. Comparable sales for the quarter decreased 5% versus the first quarter of the year prior.
The company’s gross profit for the quarter was $121 million, or 41.3% of net sales, compared to $121.8 million, or 40.9% of net sales, for the first quarter of the year prior. Adjusted gross profit, which excludes $2.6 million for the first quarter this year and $3 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2012, respectively, relating to the company’s acquisition on Nov. 2010 by Giraffe Holding, was $123.6 million, or 42.2% of net sales, for the quarter, compare to $124.8 million, or 41.9% of net sales, for the first quarter of the year prior. Giraffe Holding, Inc. is an entity controlled by investment funds sponsored by Bain Capital Partners.
The company says it is focused on improving its inventory discipline, strengthening its product assortment and continuing to drive its growth opportunities of real estate, e-commerce and international. It plans to open approximately 100 new stores, with the majority being Crazy 8 stores.
The Gymboree Corporation operates 634 Gymboree stores (584 in the United States, 43 in Canada, 1 in Puerto Rico and 6 in Australia), 160 Gymboree Outlet stores (158 in the United States, 2 in Puerto Rico), 134 Janie and Jack shops and 352 Crazy 8 stores in the United States, as well as its e-commerce sites. It also offers directed parent-child developmental play programs at 718 franchised and company-operated Gymboree Play & Music centers in the United States and 42 other countries.