Cross-Promotions Grow From 1-800-Flowers Acquisitions

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1-800-Flowers hopes that its newly acquired brand, the Children's Group, will bloom this holiday season as the result of the integration of its promotions, customer service and fulfillment with other 1-800-Flowers brands.


Westbury, NY-based 1-800-Flowers, acquired the Children's Group in mid-June. It had been owned by Foster & Gallagher Inc. In 1998, 1-800-Flowers acquired home products and furnishings catalogs Plow & Hearth and Plow & Hearth Country Home from founders Peter and Peggy Rice.


As a result of the ownership change, the Children's Group's call center will be integrated into that of Plow & Hearth and 1-800-Flowers. The Children's Group also will ship Plow & Hearth merchandise from the former's fulfillment center.


The Children's Group, Rohnert Park, CA, which operates the HearthSong and Magic Cabin Dolls catalogs, expects to increase its combined circulation this winter holiday season 8 percent to 10 percent. HearthSong sells family-focused games and toys, and Magic Cabin Dolls offers dolls and collectibles.


The two catalogs also will use at least the Plow & Hearth customer database as a prospecting tool.


"[The] Plow & Hearth [customer file] definitely is [a perfect match] for the Children's Group," said Sandy Sheppard, director of marketing at the Children's Group. "We'll see how 1-800-Flowers' [file] does."


In addition to the Children's Group's inhouse prospecting initiative, D-J Associates, Richfield, CT, is expected to continue handling list brokerage for the marketer, which designs its catalogs inhouse.


Magic Cabin Dolls, HearthSong and Plow & Hearth also will cross-promote in each other's print books, mail packages and e-mails. Sheppard declined to specify how many catalogs will be mailed for the holidays.


In early August, the Children's Group sent e-mails to the 20,000 addresses in the Magic Cabin Dolls e-mail file announcing the "happy news" -- that Magic Cabin Dolls had become part of the Plow & Hearth "family" -- and offering a 10 percent discount to recipients who place orders at Plow & Hearth's Web site, www.plowhearth.com, with links to the site. Similar e-mails were sent to HearthSong's e-mail file of 180,000 names later that month.


The 1-800-Flowers Web site expects to sell some HearthSong merchandise this winter holiday season, Sheppard said, "but we don't plan on combining the Web sites; they're each their own stand-alone brands." However, the sites will offer links to the other brands' sites, Sheppard said.


Magic Cabin Dolls expects to continue to use Spencer Press Inc., Wells, ME, to print its books, while HearthSong expects to change its printer to Quad/Graphics, Pewaukee, WI.


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