Flooz.com is an e-commerce business and creator of the world’s first online gift currency (Flooz) that offers gifting solutions for consumers. Understanding the need to create a strategic communications platform to appeal to a broad range of consumers, PR21’s role was to create a 2000 holiday media relations program developed specifically to garner brand awareness in a cluttered marketplace and drive traffic to the Web site.
News Environment: the United States presidential election coverage took an unexpected turn when the election pushed past November 5 and extended into mid-December, creating a crowded news environment that made garnering broadcast coverage particularly challenging.
Crowded marketplace: a flood of new online gift currency Web sites, such as Giftcertificates.com, Amazon.com, Americanexpress.com, contributed to the need to differentiate Flooz.com as a unique gift-giving solution for consumers. Additionally, research analysts from Jupiter Media Metrix predicted there would be an estimated 35 million online gift buyers in the 2000 holiday season– up from 20 million in 1999, representing an increase of 75%.
- Increase awareness of Flooz.com among holiday shoppers
- Drive traffic to the Web site in order to contribute to sales growth
The online retail shopping industry has grown rapidly in recent years and its growth is expected to increase exponentially over the next five years. According to a Forrester Research prediction in early December 2000, consumers will spend an estimated $12 billion online for gifts during the 2000 holiday season (time period of November 25 – December 31, 2000) and analysts estimate that consumers will spend at least $36 billion over the next five years. In a competitive landscape such as this, it is becoming more important than ever for e-commerce owners to establish a presence and build brand awareness and credibility with online holiday shoppers.
Early in 2000, Flooz.com, along with the marketing firm Peppers and Rogers Group, conducted a series of consumer focus groups to learn more about consumers’ shopping habits and behaviors. The results of this research found that most consumers fall into two distinct shopping “personality” clusters: opportunity-focused and problem-focused. Opportunity-focused shoppers find that “gifting meets an internal need” and these shoppers give a great deal of thought to gift-giving (even when confused). The opportunity-focused shoppers relish in the recipient’s enjoyment of the gift. In addition, the research found that problem-focused shoppers view gifting and shopping in general as a problem. The problem-focused shoppers’ use their personal needs as a guideline when gift-giving.
The strategic approach was twofold: to develop a creative communications platform that positions Flooz.com as the online shopping choice for holiday gift-givers and to leverage research conducted by Flooz.com that focuses on unique gift-giving behaviors and strategies of consumers.
When planning the holiday media relations program, PR21 recommended utilizing a spokesperson to add third-party credibility to the Flooz brand. When offering gifting solutions to consumers, the spokesperson highlighted the key benefits of using Flooz.com: choice, convenience and efficiency. As a perfect balance to the fun image of Flooz.com, nationally known “Gift Guru” Robyn Spizman, author of The Perfect Present: The Ultimate Gift Guide For Every Occasion, was selected as the spokesperson to offer gifting solutions to consumers during the holiday season. PR21 secured a significant number of national and local interviews for Ms. Spizman.
PR21 also leveraged the Flooz.com internal research findings as a tool for providing viable solutions to gift-gifting dilemmas and to offer the media a unique angle. Results of the internal consumer research were regionally-based, so PR21 recommended conducting a national online omnibus survey to best gauge the personalities and shopping behaviors of Flooz.com’s target audience: online consumers. From this survey, three distinct shopping behaviors stood apart from the rest: disgruntled shoppers, involved shoppers and gift-challenged shoppers. To utilize this information with the media, new labels were given to each type of shopping personality to make them more appealing and interesting. For instance, disgrunted shoppers were labeled “Gift Police;” involved shoppers were named “Give-o-Maniacs;” and gift-challenged shoppers were labeled “Gift-a-Phobes.” These gift-giving personality profiles helped PR21 break through the saturated marketplace with a fresh media angle for Flooz.com and did, more importantly, provide gifting solutions to specific consumers’ needs.
Mailed gift-giving personalities press kit to long-lead magazines and short-lead media in July
Created and distributed last minute gift-giving mat release to 10,000 daily and weekly newspapers
Secured nationally-known “Gift-Guru” and author Robyn Spizman as Flooz.com spokesperson
Conducted national online omnibus survey to determine America’s most prominent gift-giving personalities
Conducted aggressive media outreach to national, regional and local radio, print and television in top media markets
Distributed “Gift-Giving in the New Millennium” release via PR Newswire
Distributed “Avoid The Holiday Retail Rush” e-mail pitch to lifestyle editors of top 100 daily newspapers
Delivered personalized media deliveries to national talk shows in December
Distributed “Last Minute Gift-Giving” e-mail pitch to lifestyle editors of top 100 newspapers
Participated in a satellite media tour focusing on last minute gift-giving
SUMMARY OF RESULTS:
Flooz.com experienced record growth in the fourth quarter 2000 with sales up 400 percent over the same period in 1999. According to Media Metrix, Flooz.com stood in contrast to most online retail sites, where traffic the week before Christmas was down from the holiday peak in early December.
Media Metrix reported that Flooz.com had an 86.1 percent week over week increase from the week ending December 17, 2000 to the week ending December 24, 2000. According to the Media Metrix Online Shopping Index for the 1999 and 2000 Holiday Season, there was a 28.4% gain comparing the shopping weeks ending December 26, 1999 to December 24, 2000. In fact, on December 22, 2000 the demand for last-minute gifts at Flooz.com created a boost in volume, with orders being placed every four seconds.
After reevaluating the media climate in early December due to the United States presidential election coverage, media expectations were adjusted; however, results from the 2000 holiday media relations program met and exceeded expectations of Flooz.com. To date, media impressions total 277,855,795. Media placements ran in 15 of the top 20 DMA markets and 30 of the top 50 DMA markets. Significant print placements ran in two of the top 10 women’s consumer magazines. Highlights of media coverage include: USA Today Weekend (three consecutive placements in December), Woman’s Day, McCall’s, Latina magazine, Financial Times, NBC’s “Today,” CNN, New York 1, USA Radio Network, Talk America Radio Network, Associated Press.