The Yankee Candle Way: Design Notes on their Consumer Experience Design

In 2007, I was working at a small candle company called Illuminations. Mine was a little shop perched on the third floor of Valley Fair Mall in San Francisco. It appeared as a den, lit by hundreds of twinkling candles that I was responsible for lighting during my many evening shifts after school. You know how they say that you get tired of whatever you sell? Work at In-and-Out, hate In-and-Out? Not for me. Not at Illuminations. Working in this candle den after a full day of school ignited a passion for candles that continues to burn bright. Notice the puns? #NotSorry
LEFT Credit Illumination’s store facade| CENTER Credit A year-round scented candle (& one of my favorites) carried by the company | RIGHT Credit A typical Illuminations store

PURPOSE

To reflect on my consumer interaction experience with Yankee Candle Company.

WHY THE YANKEE CANDLE EXPERIENCE?

The reason I chose to reflect on Yankee Candle’s consumer interaction experience is that I have been immersed in the luxury candle market for a while, first as a salesperson and now as an avid consumer and recreational creator of scented candles.

OH NO THEY DIDN’T…

Before we start, are you wondering what happened to Illuminations, the small business lighting and scenting up the lives of people everyday? It got swallowed up by this giant that I’m evaluating today. (The other reason why…)

MY JOURNEY

I will be covering my journey that stared in January, when I was redirected to Yankee Candles by Ebates (haven’t found an Ebates incentive since!), up to the point of receiving a Yankee Candle box yesterday on my front porch. The entire process lasted over four months.

Below is a sketchnote on my consumer interaction journey (“start” on left):

PROCESS REFLECTION

(1) Landing on the Yankee Candle site, directed by an Ebates incentive

It was January and Ebates was “celebrating” by providing some added percent cash back on several dozen companies. Yankee Candle had partnered with Ebates to offer over 10% cash back. Before I knew it, nostalgia hit me and I was on the Yankee Candles site checking out how much they were charging for candles. The website was filled with brightly colored candles adorned with experiential names.

Each candle was exorbitantly priced but (surprise!) there were deals on deals on deals to make the buyer feel like they were about to score (the “deal topper” being the Ebates cash back). Hmm…Looks like someone received Macy’s sales strategy memos!

I’m still toying with the information that I can customize their jars with my photographs and Mothers Day messages.

(2) Signing up with their newsletter after being shocked by the deals

Yankee Candle took my presence on their website and ran with it, immediately offering 20% off my first purchase for a quick email exchange.

I signed up.

However…I didn’t purchase. Even after window shopping for half an hour. Regardless of the prospect of receiving over 18 items for less than a hundred bucks. I just didn’t want all those leftover Christmas candles. So I passed on it.

(3) Receiving a myriad of marketing newsletters daily

Yankee Candle Company didn’t pass on me though. Every morning, I would receive a combination of offers quoting some celebration or event, each appearing like “that special discount” I couldn’t pass up. But I did. Daily.

(4) Clicking on them but abandoning my cart shortly after

Four months later, during the first week of April, I realized that I was facing half a dozen events in the following month, each of which required gift giving.

I needed nice pieces I could mix-and-match to create a unique combination for each gift — kind of like Yankee’s different-but-same discount strategy!

Another half an hour of browsing ensued. I didn’t actually abandon my cart this time. I merely shut my browser.

(5) Receiving a follow-up “get an extra 10% off” coupon followed by a “get an extra 20% off” coupon

Within minutes of closing my browser, I received an extra 10% off. An extra 20% off followed shortly after, all within the span of 10 minutes.

(6) Again abandoning the cart

I racked up over two hundred dollars for ten large and four small candles.

I had pressing gifts to give but not the heart for it.
Yet.

(7) Finally biting the bate on 28th April, 2018

I went through steps (3), (4), (5) again but this time I purchased $108 for six large scented-candle jars (had to buy over a hundred dollars to get free shipping). I instantly received a confirmation of my purchase.

I didn’t get any shipping notifications as I have come to expect from other companies. Not sure if I totally hate it being an old school format. Sometimes excess shipping notifications increase anticipation, making the receiving of the package a partial letdown.

(9) Receiving it on May 3rd

I received two medium sized boxes which could house up to 8 large candles.

I found the decision to keep the containers medium in size curious but smart. The packing insured compactness, reducing opportunity for breakage.
The Delivery Experience

I opened the boxes to find an envelop with a note saying that “Jocelyn” packed my box, along with coupons for more Yankee products. It also had offers from a wine company and Geico.

I guess with enough wine and candles, you’ll need insurance?
Curious combination of sales pamphlets.

PRODUCT NOTES

The actual candles are not as high quality as I expected. The tops layer of the candles had bubbles. Candles like that would have been discounted at Illuminations.

The jars, however, were large and beautiful. I just wish the scents would have been as intoxicating as Illuminations’ candles-they were certainly as expensive!

TAKEAWAY

Even when a consumer seems uninterested, focus on providing them an experience they will remember. Whether it is by providing excellent products, services or tapping into people’s need to “save” through “spending more” (Yes, I know how that sounds and yes, I fall for it!), find your core business/interaction/sales strategy and tap into a pool of excitement in order to consistently prescribe to that strategy. Whether it is days or months or years, you will make your way into your consumer’s hearts and wallets.

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Shilpa is a User Interface Designer currently pursuing her masters at University of California, Irvine. Find her portfolio at shilpatripathi.com.