“The challenge for companies of our size is how to capitalize on new technologies without spending a fortune,” says Phillips. “It’s all part of the changing world of marketing.” The catalog/Web channel accounts for about half of Harbor Sweets’ annual sales.
Recently instituted e-mail marketing campaigns also are boosting response, and Phillips says the company is getting more aggressive in that regard. “In our e-mail campaigns, we’ve tried various offers such as free shipping, specials and reminders to order gifts, but we don’t yet know what are the primary drivers,” she notes. “We’re also trying to determine when is the best time to send the e-mails.”
One smart strategy it employs: Campaigns designed to drive customers to the stores that carry Harbor Sweets’ products. “We’re more aggressive these days in getting catalog and e-mail customers to the stores,” Phillips recounts. “We want to support our wholesale accounts, plus we want people to sample our products.”
Store sales account for about 30 percent of Harbor Sweets’ annual revenue. In its quest to drive such sales, the company includes a list of retail clients on its Web site and in every catalog it mails. Most appear to be gourmet food and gift shops in the New England and Mid-Atlantic area, including the famed Dean & DeLuca in New York City and the highbrow Robertson’s of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia. However, people in states as far away as Florida, Indiana and New Mexico can buy Harbor Sweets candies in local stores.
Harbor Sweets spawned its retail channel several years ago by selling its products first in its own shop, and then to another retailer in Salem, Mass. Today it uses the services of an independent sales representative to garner more accounts. The rep’s recent coup: Harbor Sweets candies are now sold in select New England stores of the supermarket chain Whole Foods Markets. “We’re very proud of that new account,” says LeBlanc, “and we hope to continue to grow with them.”