The idea for Gillian Harper’s business began with a joke. When the serial entrepreneur was looking for a new enterprise, she mapped out her priorities and personal values on tables and spreadsheets but it was comedian Jerry Seinfeld that ultimately provided the inspiration.
Seinfeld’s routine about the confusion men experience when buying flowers sparked her interest. “Every man I have ever spoken to would agree with this situation,” said Harper who co-founded the Atlanta-based startup, Real Men Buy Flowers.
Here’s a clip of Seinfeld talking flowers with Jay Leno:
More men are buying flowers online, particularly young married men (ages 18 - 34) with incomes of $75,000 or more according to the 2016 Floral Purchase Tracking Study.
With the top four players in online flower sales generating 46.8% of almost $4 billion in revenue in 2018 according to IBIS World data, Harper felt it was an industry ripe for disruption.
“Flowers are something people are becoming more accustomed to ordering online,” she said. “We don’t want to be everything to everyone, we just want to know our consumer and know him really well and know his frustration point and just speak to him.”
Men, it seems, were experiencing decision fatigue when purchasing flowers for women. “They needed to buy flowers but the time it would take to do research without the requisite knowledge would force them to spend far longer online for something that should be a fast purchase,” Harper said.
Can you send red roses to your mom? Should you upgrade to the fluffy bear? Add the crappy candies? It was too much for most men.
“There were a lot of them dropping out before even making a purchase. We were trying to make it fast and take a lot of decisions away from them,” Harper said.
The goal of Real Men Buy Flowers is to get shoppers in and out in under three minutes. Two plans offer men the option of buying single bouquets or a subscription plan that allows men to enter all of their flower buying occasions at once. Prices are set at $59, $79 or $99 and are organized by occasion such as Mother’s Day, anniversary or just because. Shipping is a flat rate of $10.
Each bouquet includes a note to the recipient directly from Harper and her female co-founder Kenan Hill asking women to send any feedback directly to them so as not to discourage the male sender.
So far, men have responded well to Real Men Buy Flowers, said Harper who once had a flower debate with her husband at a dinner party when he insisted that he buys her flowers all the time. In fact, it had been about 10 years since he had bought her flowers, Harper said.
This business, she said, isn’t just about selling flowers. “This is about helping male and female partners connect a bit better,” she said.