Andersen, an $8.4 billion management and consulting firm, said it decided to target the older generation, which it has dubbed "peak-timers," because "that specific market is extremely ripe in that they're educated, they're at their peak-life stage, they've got discretionary income, they've got more leisure time, and they have more aspirations to travel," said Andrew Jiangola, a spokesperson for the firm.
The firm said it will own a majority stake in iFlourish and hopes to take the business public within a year after its scheduled September launch.
Jiangola said Andersen's goal is to generate a vast majority of its revenue through e-commerce transactions. With iFlourish, users can book travel arrangements, book hotels and transportation, purchase medication and health products online, and eventually, the firm said it wants to have an online pharmacy as well.
Like many other companies, Andersen is making an aggressive move into the e-commerce market. In June, Andersen launched a large global ad campaign signaling a major push by the firm into the e-commerce space. As reported, Andersen said it plans to spend about $10 million in advertising dollars over the next six months on its e-commerce practice.
No other services firms has entered the space in such a direct way, said Susan Scrupski-Miranda, an industry analyst at IT Services Advisory.
"They're also playing the role as a venture capitalist," said Scrupski-Miranda. "They've made investments in the past, but this is a serious endeavor."
iFlourish, which has been in the works for about two years, will include sections on community, health, travel, shopping, and finance. Another section called "We Prefer" will offer links to additional areas of interest through an affiliate program to provide a wider scope of products and services to its members, such as, cooking, gardening, home improvements, pets, sports, books, music, wines, and employment.
Scrupski-Miranda said the new venture will pay off more as a showcase of the company's consulting skills that as a revenue generator. She added, "If they can be a contender with some of these other [portal] brands, they're validating their credibility in the e-space...But, it's still unclear who will be the winners in the next generation in terms of making the economic model work."
With iFlourish, the firm said it has made several content and services partners with companies like Blue Martini Software, Uniglobe.com, Cybersource, Reuters, and the Washington Post Writer's Group. For example, iFlourish will use Blue Martini's e-merchandising technology, Cybersource's back-end transaction capabilities, and Uniglobe.com's Internet travel services.