Vikaas Gutgutia, MD & Founder, Ferns N Petals Pvt Ltd takes us through the brand’s growth story over the past 27 years and tells us how gifting has evolved during the pandemic. He also discusses the brand’s ambition of becoming a gifting MNC by entering a new market every three months
Ferns N Petals is a brand that was established in 1994 with the tagline ‘flowers, anywhere, anytime’, but today it has gone way beyond flowers and has become one of India’s leading gifting platforms. With over 25 years of successful business operations and with a turnover of Rs 500 crore this year, there are a lot of learnings and experiences that Vikaas Gutgutia, MD & Founder, Ferns N Petals Pvt. Ltd has to share. He takes us through them all, including the launch of its sub-brand ‘Sneh’ that will cater to festive demands.
Innovation in gifting during the pandemic
In its initial phase, the pandemic had brought most businesses to halt. However, special occasions and festivals were still being celebrated and therefore, gifting comes into the bigger picture. Talking about the sentiment towards gifting in these times, Gutugutia shares, “The urge to gift during the pandemic has been more about an effort to make up for the lost time. During social distancing, giving a gift to loved ones comes with special challenges. People want to make extra sure they are giving the right gifts and that whatever they give actually gets to the recipient.”
While Ferns N Petals is an omnichannel brand, the first lockdown had brought the physical retail part of it to a complete halt. Gutgutia recounts, “We realised that we had to innovate quickly and thus we came out with the concept of digital gifts that helped us cater to a good chunk of the customers. We were quick to launch technology-enabled virtual gifting options like guitarist-on-call, celebrity video messages, poets on call, personalised video messages, digital caricatures, etc. The segment contributed about 7%-8% of the overall FY20-21 revenue.” It is interesting to note that today about 70% of Ferns N Petals (FNP)’s sale comes from its digital channel and continues to see double-digit growth in the online space. The brand recently tapped on the festival of Raksha Bandhan to launch its own Rakhi brand, ‘Sneh’. The brand also rolled out a digital campaign, ‘Bandhan Pyaar Ka’ featuring actor siblings Huma Qureshi and Saqib Salim. Sharing insights on the latest campaign, Gutgutia says, “We wanted to make a brand film targeting the millennials as they are the real influencers in every household. The entire campaign was built around the relatable yet silly fights that 90’s kids used to have. The film was executed by FNP media and Huma and Saqib were finalised as they were the perfect ‘I love you like I hate you’ sibling pair. Our strategy was straightforward – target the ones who can influence a million at once.”
Thriving with 1/3rd market share
In recent times, a lot of new players have made their way into the category. However, Ferns N Petals successfully enjoys a substantial 1/3rd market share. Gutugutia explains, “We have a couple of focus points that we follow in order to deliver better and firm our foot. We strive to be innovative, provide value, make optimum usage of social media marketing and deliver what our brand promises”. FNP also has an exhaustive dealer and distributor partner network with around 900+ distribution partners. According to Gutgutia, irrespective of the dip in retail owing to the pandemic, the brand was able to sustain itself and is doing pretty well in the online space.
From a marketing perspective, the brand is putting more emphasis on social media and effective storytelling. Gutgutia points out, “Our overall focus revolves around our target groups wherever possible. We are available across platforms whenever there is a need but our maximum budget allocation is on digital. FNP has been very active on social media lately and we are using various social media campaigns to attract the target audience. We curate content for the active social media users who are majorly Gen Z and also Gen X and Y. Since October 2019, we have been able to reach out to almost 20 crore users on social media and that’s the power of social media. That’s also the goodness that storytelling brings to our brand today.”
Towards growth and sustainability
The overall turnover of the company in FY 2020-21 was around Rs 500 crore. However, due to the unfortunate lockdown disruptions, the brand expects a hit of around 15-20% in its topline. Currently, there are about 271 Ferns N Petals flower stores in 125 cities and 128 FNP Cake N More outlets in 55 cities. FNP delivers across 400 cities and towns across India and 120 countries worldwide. Talking about plans to become a gifting MNC, Gutgutia adds “We have launched our services, as well as store operations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. FNP records double-digit growth in sales and revenue in the UAE, with the aim of expanding to KSA during the next quarter. With existing delivery services across Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we have created a niche in the UAE’s online market. As a part of our key expansion plan, we have opened a new retail store in Sharjah. Since establishing FNP’s first branch in Dubai, the brand has seen a tremendous revenue increase, and we are confident about the incredible opportunities the region has to offer. We are now aiming to enter a new international market every three months. Ferns N Petals is constantly expanding into other sectors as well.”
Business at FNP is spread across 11 verticals and weddings are a significant part of it. Over a span of three years, FNP Gardens has organized 1300+ weddings until March 2020 and additionally did 80+ weddings during the pandemic. Speaking about how the brand is planning to take a sustainable route for weddings as well, Gutgutia signs off, “Due to this ongoing pandemic, things may change but wedding functions will never stop in India and we will come back stronger. This year has made us realise that it’s high time we give more priority to sustainability. All the arrangements, be it décor, catering, lighting and so on will be done, minding the rules of sustainability. We are also promoting day weddings to support the idea of saving energy. We are also planning to add eco-friendly elements to beautify the spaces for weddings.”