Hickory Farms Promotes Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hickory Farms wants its customers to know that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it has joined forces with the National Alliance for Breast Cancer Organization to raise customer awareness.

The 50-year-old specialty food merchant, which targets women older than age 50 in Middle America, has two strategies to accomplish its goal.

Hickory Farms, Maumee, OH, sells a basket called the Gift of Hope filled with gourmet foods, including fruits, truffles, teas and jellies, in its catalog and on its Web site. The Gift of Hope costs $49.99, and Hickory will donate $5 of the purchase to NABCO. The basket also includes educational material on breast cancer detection.

Hickory Farms offers the basket in its fall/holiday catalog, the second drop of which was scheduled to reach homes this week. The merchant plans to continue selling the basket throughout the year on its Web site and in next year's spring catalog.

Hickory Farms' Web site offers a link to the NABCO site for visitors who want to sign up to receive e-mail reminders to get mammograms or breast exams.

“It goes hand in hand because Hickory Farms is a well-known brand across the country and we really want to be involved in communities, [and] this is a great way to promote our products and give to a worthy cause,” said Kathy Valtin, who is the catalog manager at Hickory Farms.

Hickory Farms, whose roots are in brick-and-mortar stores, produces nine catalog brands, including its business-to-business title Tasteful Rewards, and has nine Web sites that sell food products, including steak, nuts, confections and produce. It also operates a wholesale arm that sells to Wal-Mart and Target stores and approximately 700 seasonal retail kiosks nationwide.

Valtin would not disclose the ratio of sales generated via its namesake catalog to those generated via the Web. However, she said, “a lot of the sales are coming from [the Web], just like a lot of retailers all last year at Christmas. We're really using one to support the other.” She added that Hickory uses its books to encourage people to buy online.

Each Hickory Farms brand has its own site. The 4-year-old Hickory Farms Web site, www.hickoryfarms.com, was relaunched this month with an updated look.

“Customers can now place orders with multiple [ship-to] addresses,” Valtin said.

Hickory Farms began mailing the first of four drops of its fall/holiday book in September. The company, which has been mailing catalogs for 12 years, drops four books on average per title during the holiday season.

Valtin declined to release the number of books Hickory drops per year. The company, which has 200 full-time employees, focuses most of its prospecting efforts on the fall/winter holiday season, but Valtin declined to give a ratio of prospects to customers Hickory mails to. She also did not disclose what firm the merchant uses for list brokerage.

Hickory's books are designed inhouse and by outside agencies Ovation Marketing Inc., La Crosse, WI, and One-to-One Marketing, formerly Ambrosi, Chicago. Hickory Farms' books are printed by Wisconsin Color Press, Milwaukee. Fulfillment is managed inhouse

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