Industry Profiles

September 27, 2017 •
The Snowy Selling Season

Our pen-to-paper industry ebbs and flows according to the card-sending occasions occurring throughout the calendar year. Each encourages the art of communication via paper, but the most profitable months are November and December. Over the years, market research has consistently showed a steady baseline of holiday card sales, with Christmas cards leading the way in popularity for best-selling seasonal greeting cards, reaching upward of 1.6 billion dollars in a given year, according to the Greeting Card Association (GCA). And in December 2016, the National Retail Federation (NRF) forecast that holiday retail sales will grow 3.6 percent in 2017.

But which types of greeting cards and merchandise will be most popular during the winter holidays? Each product brims with charm, but some that move faster than others.

Amanda Bush, co-founder and owner of Shades of Expression Designs, colorful designs with conventional flair are going to be favorites this year — as well as those exhibiting a certain inherent simplicity.  “Christmas trees and wreaths, winter country scenes, and cards with traditional holiday children,” comprise some of Shades of Expression’s best-selling designs.

The holidays can be stressful, so levity is always welcome! These are (clockwise) Wrendale Designs, Nobleworks, ilootpaperie, Design Design, kiss and punch, Loudhouse Creative, and Warren Tales.

“Season’s Greetings,” “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” and “Peace on earth” are just a few holiday sayings that are classic for a reason. By switching the color scheme or integrating an unexpected design element, these traditions receive a twist.

While more traditional holiday cards continue to be Pictura’s top sellers, “We’ve recently experienced a surge in more contemporary designs as found in our Sara Miller releases,” observed Charlie Wallin, president.

It has added 106 new designs to its holiday release, asserting the demand for its Sara Miller collection is astronomical. Humor is another holiday mainstay. “I love puns and word play so I feel like I spend endless hours trying to come up with punny cards with a new twist,” explained Julie Stewart, owner and creative director of Kiss and Punch.

For 2017, many companies have introduced a Trump card. “[I’m] not sure if anyone has done a “Make Christmas Great Again” [card], but I wouldn’t be surprised,” Stewart added.

However overtly popular political cards may be, Stewart chooses to stick to humor that’s not-so-much a topic of discussion as it is just a cute, whimsical greeting. “Tis’ the season to get lit,” and “Deck the halls, not your family” are a best-seller favorite and all-time best- seller, respectively for Kiss and Punch. Why do humorous cards work so well for customers? “I think the holidays can be so stressful that they seek humor,” described Stewart.

Ornaments, trees, holly and snowy vistas set the stage for a winning merchandise mix. These are from Quilling Card, J. Falkner, Orange Twist, and Shades of Expression Designs.

Selling Christmas

For holidays rooted in social expression and visual storytelling, there’s a lot that goes into moving these greeting cards out the door. Displaying products by the counter or in aisles with high foot traffic tend to have a greater sell-through.

Companies often send signage to help retailers grab the attention of customers. “We have custom display units which fit our square sized greeting cards and showcase the handcrafted art,” pointed out Huong Nguyen Wolf, co-founder, Quilling Cards. “These units are typically placed near the checkout counter providing greater visibility and accessibility.”

What’s more, Quilling Cards’ product offerings aren’t found just anywhere, so customers specifically on the lookout for the signature look of the company will most likely repeatedly return to the same retailers that are known to carry the line.

Not unlike with the merchandising of other products during various holidays, many retailers set up products on tables in the center of their shop to put it under the spotlight, so to speak. “This draws customers in and spotlights the holiday products,” recommended Bush.

During the holidays, use your imagination and make your shop look like a winter wonderland that everyone would want to visit. Strategically placing greeting cards will ensure moving product and maximum sales. That way you’ll be sure to not be singing the holiday blues!

*Featured image: Designs exhibiting homespun simplicity, as well as the touch of the artist’s hand, like these from Lacelit, exhibit an enduring evergreen appeal. 

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