Beyond Flowers And Cards: Mother’s Day In The Experience Economy

Richard Howells

Last year on Mother’s Day, I wrote about the floral industry’s supply chain, which is quite sophisticated. Flowers grown in Latin America have about 10 days from cut to delivery before they perish – and getting them to where they need to go on Mother’s Day requires a “cold chain” that spans continents and requires speed, logistics, and refrigeration.

But today’s mom (especially millennial moms) are looking beyond flowers and cards, the typical fare of Mother’s Day. Today, more and more moms want experiences.

Of course, one of the most traditional gifts for Mother’s Day has always been an experience: the Mother’s Day brunch. But even here, millennials are putting their twist on the way their parents’ generation has done things for years. Options range from a spin class followed by a light repast made with organic ingredients to a night out of sophisticated dining for the “Glam Mom.”

Racing to Mother’s Day

Yet more Moms want to go beyond anything at all to do with dining – which, after all, is so boomer. A colleague of mine here at SAP recently told me about the time her daughter entered her name into a Mother’s Day contest – which she won.

The contest was to receive a day’s instruction on how to drive a Formula 1000 racing car. Along with a group of other moms who had also been selected, my colleague spent the day learning how to drive around a race track at speeds I’m sure she’d never driven before. “It was exhilarating,” she says. “The best Mother’s Day gift ever – hands down.”

This is the kind of nontraditional experience that many moms are looking for today – and companies need to know how to deliver them. In my colleague’s case, the racing experience was part of a media outlet’s promotional effort to drive readership. The idea was to generate excitement about the contest, getting people to read the story about the experience of the winners – and thus, charge more for advertising.

Not a bad strategy. The fact is, the ability to deliver positive experiences goes a long way to ensuring customer loyalty and engagement. I wonder if my colleague still visits the media outlet that gave her the best Mother’s Day ever?

The product experience

But not all experiences need to be distinct from the product or service being sold. Just as often, the experience of the product or service itself is what matters most. Take Harry & David for example. Since 1934, Harry & David has been providing gourmet gifts such as baskets filled with hand-picked fruits and other treats.

Today, the company runs an e-commerce site that makes browsing and ordering gifts a breeze. The ease with which sons and daughters can select and purchase gift baskets for mom keeps customers coming back.

Key to the overall experience is supply chain coordination and prompt delivery. Harry & David makes, bakes, and grows 85% of its products. Perishable goods – such as the company’s famous pears – need to show up in pristine condition. This is why the company uses technology to make, deliver, and improve food traceability and fulfill orders faster while ensuring the quality and high-end presentation for which Harry & David is known.

So, this year for Mother’s Day, keep in mind that what mom may want most is a memorable experience that makes her feel special – because, after all, she is! Whether car racing, brunch, or a gift basket, remember that it’s the experience that matters most.

By the way, Mother’s Day is on May 12 this year. You can thank me later for the reminder.

And if you haven’t gotten a present yet, download the IDC report “Leveraging your intelligent digital supply chain” for your mom, so she can find out how an end-to-end digital supply chain – from design and planning to manufacturing, logistics, and operations – addresses the operational pressures of shorter product cycles, design variability, fluctuating demand, and faster delivery expectations.

Follow me on Twitter @howellsrichard

About Richard Howells

Richard Howells is a Vice President at SAP responsible for the positioning, messaging, AR , PR and go-to market activities for the SAP Supply Chain solutions.