From their work with purpose-led start-up teams, BurdaPrincipal Investments have made some observations where social purpose provides start-ups with distinctive competitive advantages.
While the global coronavirus pandemic keeps spreading rapidly, bringing life to a halt in almost every corner of the world, unexpected flower deliveries can brighten up the day of your loved ones: Aron Gelbard, CEO of the British flower gifting brand Bloom & Wild, shares his thoughts on how flowers can express emotions in times of social distancing and how the Corona pandemic has changed his business in the UK and Germany. Bloom & Wild is part of the international portfolio of Burda’s growth capital arm BurdaPrincipal Investments.
Mother’s Day in the UK has just passed in the middle of the global Corona pandemic. Has the crisis changed the business of online flower deliveries? What outcome did you notice in the countries you operate in?
We were very fortunate in that we were able to continue our operations as usual, especially over the Mother's Day period, as we had pre-committed to large volumes of flowers for the peak trading period. Demand also continued to remain strong – there is of course economic uncertainty but on the other hand people are unable to see their loved ones as a result of social distancing measures and so there is strong appetite for online flowers – we have seen this in the UK (which we expected over the peak period) but also in other markets e.g. Germany and France, where we were not in peak period.
With more and more countries shutting down shops and local businesses, how do you ensure your business keeps running smoothly?
We're fortunate that our head office team is able to work 100% remotely. We had tested this a few months ago when our office flooded. We voluntarily closed our office on 12th March, ahead of any government guideline to do so, as it felt socially responsible and the right thing for our employees and their families – the team all very much appreciated it. The government in each of UK, Germany and France have encouraged online retailers to continue operating so that people can get hold of goods without leaving their homes, and have asked online fulfilment centres to put strict hygiene practices in place, all of which we have adopted in full with our fulfilment partners in all markets. We know that government policies could change and that we could be asked to stop operating at short notice, and so we are trying to balance continuing our operations with being in a position to pause them at any time if asked to do so.
People are currently forced into social distancing and home office. What kind of impact could flower deliveries have on people’s lives in such an uncomforting and uncertain situation?
We've seen that people are keen to express emotions to their loved ones. Naturally for Mother's Day but also for birthdays and just to say that they're thinking of people who are self isolating and may need the pick-me up that some flowers can provide. The fact that we can do contactless delivery, including through recipients' letterboxes in the UK, has been a big plus.
Any encouraging words you would like to share with our community?
We have seen the pandemic as an opportunity to build on our Thoughtful Marketing Movement and turn our product into a force for good. In the UK, we've launched discounts for frontline workers, a nomination scheme for Covid-19 heroes, and a donation to the National Emergencies Trust. We are working on similar activities in other markets. This approach has resonated very strongly with our customer base, especially those involved directly in responding to the crisis.