February 10, 2017 • Sam Ujvary
When the flowers begin to bloom, so too does a splendid season of card-giving holidays. Finding ways to celebrate these special days dedicated to mothers, fathers, loved ones and graduates can be challenging — especially with annual occasions such as Mother’s Day — but the greeting card market offers enough options so that sentiments can be expressed with the desired note of authenticity, humor or whatever the card sender desires.
Earlier this year, National Public Radio (NPR) declared that although card sales remain relatively consistent, greeting card companies are constantly trying to stay germane in our digital age. Meanwhile, according to the Greeting Card Association (GCA), somewhere around 6.5 billion greeting cards are sold each year, with 133 million and 90 million strictly for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day respectively. That gives your shop plenty of opportunities to make sales happen each day. But the question remains, how do you speak to your customers’ card tastes?
One approach is by having plenty of offerings for each occasion. Graphique de France and Pictura have respectively introduced 30 and nearly 120 SKUs for this year’s spring seasonal releases. “Our spring cards include both traditional and handmade formats, featuring colorful designs and trending captions,” observed Maria Gonsalves, creative manager, Graphique de France. “Our handmades also (incorporate) special embellishments and add-ons such as detachable keepsakes and 3D elements.”
Standout features that turn browsers into buyers can mean anything from texture and trending color combinations to witty letterpress quips and beautiful artwork. “Consumers want fresh designs and superior quality at a reasonable price,” explained Charlie Wallin, president, Pictura.
To make sense of the current market, the GCA and Stationery Trends developed a comprehensive greeting card industry survey in 2016. Results indicated design trends such as distinctive shapes and sizes; letterpress; bright colors; foil; gold and copper; watercolor; hand lettering; word art and simple designs. Interestingly, Hallmark cites humorous cards as accounting for nearly 25 percent of Father’s Day card sales.
On another note, significant others respond to more authentic sentiments on that special mid-February holiday. “A voice that speaks to what we are really thinking,” might be the best way to describe what customers respond to, at least according to Kristin Stubbs, visual marketing manager for Madison Park Group.
“Our clients love sweet, sentimental illustrations and pretty gold foil,” added Paula Cheng-Mahta, creative director, Paula & Waffle. “I think that people are looking for something truly special and unique to show their love and appreciation.”
“Whether the message is from the heart or a humorous catch-phrase, customers are looking for the words that capture the meaning of each occasion and personality of the recipient in mind,” opined Gonsalves.
Foil continues to add a rich touch to their greeting cards. After all, who doesn’t love pretty, shiny things? Egg Press owner Tess Darrow sees clientele tastes changing from season to season, but a definite pattern underlies it all. “They respond to colors that pop off the shelves, and foil sells,” she advised.
Whatever greeting cards you choose, good merchandising is key. “We recommend that retailers put together card walls, use spinning racks or baskets to display our cards,” recommended Cheng-Mahta. “We’ve also seen our retailers pair our cards with related gifts.”