Edible Arrangements: Our strategy for growth

Edible Arrangements shipped over four million pounds of fresh fruit and chocolate that we handcrafted into bouquets and gourmet gifts to meet holiday demand between Black Friday and Christmas. Since our current offerings already appeal to consumers, staying focused on our core business model is tempting. Why rock the fruit boat? Here's the answer: Customers demand predictability, but they crave the unexpected.

Edible Arrangements
Source: Edible Arrangements

Perhaps as president of Edible Arrangements, I am a little more focused on cravings than other business leaders. However, every leader has to identify market cravings in their own spheres and race to satisfy them. Since Edible Arrangements is a franchise system, we look to be a champion for entrepreneurs. I hope some of the lessons we are learning on our journey will help other growing businesses to improve performance.

As you seek to satisfy the growling pangs of customers hungering for the new and different, here are a few ideas that could help.

Have the next course ready.

Have you ever been to a restaurant and felt frustrated that the dessert takes too long to arrive? Waiting for what is next can ruin even the best main course. Sequencing each transaction with a customer is like timing the stages of a fine meal. At Edible Arrangements, that has meant rounding out our assortment to focus on more everyday solutions, offering customers opportunities to enjoy and share our products between the traditional holiday peaks and special occasions. Soon all our stores will be carrying our new Edible to Go line of smoothies, fruits salads and treats. We now provide customers an immediate reason to stay engaged with the brand. What do you have coming next? How long will your customer wait?

Invite everyone to the table.

Sometimes it is easy to overlook new customer groups who could crave what we offer. Traditionally, Edible Arrangements focused on individuals gifting to other individuals. With some fresh thinking, we have unlocked huge demand for our Edible for Business solutions. Companies use our products for clients, prospects and employee recognition. Retailers rely on Edible Arrangements to surprise and delight their most loyal customers. Even nonprofits see great value in selling Edible Arrangements as part of their fundraising efforts. As you thrill your current customers with a feast of innovation, who did you forget to invite?

Bring out the best china.

Do you remember the special plates you agonized over with your fiancé before you got married? They're right there in your breakfront, but when did you use them last? You probably have assets on the shelf like physical infrastructure, intellectual property, skills and knowhow that sometimes aren't fully utilized. At Edible Arrangements, we have unlocked the full power of some of our best tools – stout ecommerce platform, national store network and sophisticated backend systems -- to make a bigger customer promise and engage craving customers who "want it now." Guests can order on their desktop, tablet or cell phone and in just seven minutes a store can have a solution ready for them. This requires extraordinary preparation, planning and productivity, but the potential to make it happen lies within our existing assets. What do you already have in your organization's china cabinet that can make a meal into a banquet?

Show the love.

How many Yelp reviews fawn about a restaurant's food and yawn about the service? Customer cravings include emotional needs as well as rational ones. At Edible Arrangements we have always been focused on fulfilling orders with quality. A few years ago, we elevated our purpose to "help people celebrate what is good in life." This higher calling demands getting it right and delivering delight. Our focus has intensified on exceptional beginning-to-end service. This includes simplifying our digital ordering system, training our store teams on solution selling, and harvesting best practices from franchisees. Do your team members believe in love?

Simultaneously, meeting customers' current expectations and their emerging cravings requires discipline. The Edible Arrangements' leadership team approach is to accelerate innovation, expand the view of the market, fully leverage core assets and unleash the team's talent. I believe all enterprises can benefit from an IN DEMAND brand with greater differentiation, more growth options and highly engaged people.

Commentary by Rob Price, president of Edible Arrangements®. Previously, he was Chief Marketing Officer of CVS/pharmacy. Rob has also directed business development for Hardees restaurants, led Marketing for Texas-based H-E-B Grocery and served as Chief Marketing Officer for Wawa Food Markets. He also served for two years as a guest faculty member in the Wharton M.B.A. program. Rob holds a B.S. in Applied Economics from Cornell University and an M.B.A. with High Distinction from Harvard Business School.

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