Fannie May Sweetens DM to Younger Consumers

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Fannie May, maker and seller of chocolates like Pixies, Mint Meltaways and Trinidads, is retooling its direct marketing to appeal to the children and grandchildren of its core age-60-plus female demographic.

Such changes affect the Chicago company's five consumer and two group sales catalogs, one corporate gift book, three direct mail projects and freestanding inserts. Chicago ad agency Ambrosi handles the effort to make Fannie May marketing vehicles more contemporaneous.

"The mission is to grow the purchase for personal consumption, entertaining and holiday gift purchases," said Mark Pearson, co-president of Ambrosi.

Fannie May's new catalogs are designed to reactivate house file customers and boost repeat business. They also take into account the response rate and average order size of each line of its business.

First take the visuals. Ambrosi updated the catalogs with a more modern look, particularly a shift to vertical, right-hand open design. Product photography was re-shot to highlight the tastes and textures of Fannie May candy. A new horizontal page size is also meant to reflect the size of the one-pound Fannie May candy box.

Content was given a makeover, too. The copy voice is more approachable and fun for younger segments, with suggestions for additional usage occasions. And headlines like "Tricks and Treats for Halloween Goblin" add a humorous tone to the brand without alienating the older customer base.

"Fannie May feels that the brand must evolve in order to grow and resonate with a broader base of customers than it is currently attracting," Pearson said.

"In addition to being a significant revenue source, the direct mail program garners millions of impressions each mailing, therefore it is a sound medium to begin the brand's transition from a product-driven sale to a more relevant connection with the target customer," he said.

Fannie May did not disclose catalog circulation. The consumer books, however, have fall/Halloween, Christmas, St. Valentine's Day, Easter and Mother's Day editions.

Founded 83 years ago, Fannie May's direct program supports nearly 200 stores in nine states. It is a division of Archibald Candy Corp., owner of confectionery brands such as Fanny Farmer in the United States and Laura Secord in Canada. All told, the parent company has 400 stores and 8,000 third-party retailers in North America.

The Internet is fast becoming a critical component of Fannie May's direct marketing business. The company claims sales at are growing rapidly each year. Tactics like search engine marketing, expanding e-mail campaigns and an inclusion in Amazon's gourmet store help.

"Ambrosi is focusing on developing their brand in the offline direct world," Pearson said, "and transitioning the visual appeal of the direct books to the Web site to illustrate consistency and brand equilibrium is a possibility in the near future."

As a first step, the new catalog photography is now used on Future design changes will aim to create consistency between direct mail pieces and the site.

"Despite flat circulation, the Fannie May mail-order and Internet business experienced a slight increase over last year, which can be attributed to Internet marketing opportunities," said M. Johnna Purcell, marketing communications manager at Archibald Candy.

These changes are just in time for what is arguably the busiest time of year for most retailers in the gifting business. Though it will not disclose actual numbers, Fannie May certainly registers heaviest sales during the holiday season.

For example, the holiday season accounts for 67 percent of the candy maker's sales, Easter 10 percent, St. Valentine's Day 9 percent, Halloween 6 percent and Mother's Day and non-holiday 4 percent each.

Ambrosi research for Fannie May shows 48.4 percent of consumers have bought candy for someone in the past year. But only 12 percent bought through mail order or the Internet.

"Fannie May has an opportunity to capitalize on their brand recognition, the consumer's favorable attitude toward chocolate as a gift and a focused direct mail program to increase their sales," Pearson said.

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