No amount of marketing is going to sell a bad product.
With entrepreneurship in his blood, Aron Gelbard knew from a young age that running his own business was what he desired and had a clear image of the business he wanted to run.
Bloom & Wild is now the largest online flower retailer in Europe. For co-founder Aron Gelbard, it started with a desire to make people happy.
For Aron Gelbard, co-founder of the UK’s largest flower delivery service Bloom & Wild, it wasn’t just about the flowers. Flowers were emblematic: “I recognised their positive emotional impact. When I started the business I didn’t want to make widgets. I wanted something that helps people express their emotions and gives a really positive experience.”
When he decided to take the entrepreneurial leap from his steady job at a management consultancy, he knew exactly the type of business he wanted to run, even if he didn’t yet know that it would involve flowers: “If you have a business selling to consumers, you either get positive feedback, which is great, or negative feedback, which acts as a call to action.”
He had seen entrepreneurial life first hand. His father and grandfather had both been entrepreneurs and he knew it could be difficult, hard work. “That was very formative. I knew I wanted to do it, but I also knew I needed to de-risk it a little.” For him that meant not just dropping out of the workplace but having something he could fall back on.
Management consultancy also taught him some useful skills that he carried through into his business life, learning to communicate concisely, for example, to prioritise work effectively. It also taught him how to motivate people and run an effective team.
The group started small in 2013 with Aron and Ben (Stanway, who remains on the board). They used some modest savings to rent space, buy some wholesale flowers and experiment with different packaging samples. They built letterbox-friendly packaging, found the right combination of flowers. This was, he says, one of the key things they got right: “We didn’t try to scale too quickly. We worked on getting the product as brilliant as possible. We reasoned that by making it really good, people would recommend it to others. We would get a tailwind of word of mouth and referrals, rather than having to use paid marketing all the time.”
The group only used paid marketing later, when they were sure they had a really good product. He adds: “It’s tempting to say ‘what can I do to sell quickly?’ but it is worth having the discipline to build something better than what’s out there. No amount of marketing is going to sell a bad product.”
He knew there were already plenty of online flower companies and they needed to differentiate themselves in multiple ways. That meant reducing their environmental impact by buying directly from growers, building bespoke technology to ensure that our operations were as scalable and efficient as possible, but also ensuring that the brand was synonymous with trust and care. Bloom & Wild needed to be known for going out of its way to give a great experience – or ‘caring wildly’ as it describes it.
The emotional pull of flowers became particularly important through the pandemic, when, Aron says, flowers became a substitute for hugs. “There was a surge in demand during the pandemic that continues through to today. It was challenging to ramp up supply: we needed more people to pack but of course our priority was the health of our people, so it had to be done in a way that ensured social distance.”
However, the type of customers that came on board during the pandemic were ‘sticky’. They had gone in search of Bloom & Wild rather than being draw to the company through marketing, which meant they have stayed loyal.
Bloom & Wild felt it was really important to support the wider community, as a business that’s been fortunate enough to continue trading throughout the pandemic. Over the first wave they raised £215k for the National Emergencies Trust, as well as offering frontline workers over £2m in discounts. More recently they’ve established a partnership with Carers Trust, supporting the 7m unpaid carers in the UK. In the first quarter of the partnership the brand raised over £110k.
Aron’s goal from here is simple - to be the world’s most loved flower and gifting company. Bloom & Wild has already have disrupted many incumbents to become the market leader in the UK and he still believes there are tremendous opportunities for expansion. Today, they operate in eight countries, including Germany, France, Austria and Ireland. They recently took over Netherlands-based bloomon in Amsterdam to become the largest online player in Europe.
They have also moved beyond letterbox flowers and into plants and, corporate flower gifts: “We want to give people an experience beyond flowers and believe there is a large scale opportunity to build beyond the flower category. We have developed geographically and across multiple product categories.”
“I want to give it everything. I am obsessed with creating the best possible experience for our customers. We don’t cut corners and we want to make sure everyone comes back.”
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