Greeting Cards Are Still Relevant, but Customization Is the Key to Market Success, according to a New Study of the Greeting Card Market by Unity Marketing

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While the overall market for greeting cards has declined about 2 percent from 2009 to 2013, customized cards have been a strong growth category, while sales of individual preprinted cards have declined. Internet services that allow the customer to design and print their own cards have created innovative ways for people to connect with friends and family through greeting cards.

Pamela N. Danziger, Unity Marketing

Today when people think about sending a greeting card, more are turning to the internet to create a personalize card that expresses their feelings, rather than picking up a generic card that some publisher created.

Market disruption brought on by the internet is a common story today. The market for greeting cards is no different. As consumer demand for traditional preprinted greeting cards has fallen, customers are turning to the internet to create-their-own personalized greetings. Thanks to the rapidly growing custom-card sector, the overall greeting card market dropped a modest 1.9 percent from 2009 to 2013, according to the newly published report by Unity Marketing, based upon a new survey among 500 recent greeting card customers.

Behind the numbers are some important consumer-driven shifts, Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of the new study explains. "Through the research, we found that the sales of individual, preprinted greeting cards dropped sharply, while those of custom greetings rose by an even greater percentage and the sales of boxed cards enjoyed a modest rate of growth over the past four years," Danziger said.

Behind the industry sales numbers, Danziger explains the trends.

Individual preprinted greeting card trends -- People today are buying fewer greeting cards, although the share of customers buying cards hasn't shift noticeably from 2009 to 2013, nor has the amount they typically spend on an individual card changed. That means the decline in the individual preprinted greeting card market reflects the fact that people are cutting back on the number of cards and/or occasions when they typically purchase and send greeting cards. Given these trends, Danziger advises "Marketers and retailers should call out less popular events and occasions to buy and send a greeting card and remind their customers that greeting cards are a heartfelt and meaningful way to communicate."

Boxed card trends -- In the case of boxed cards, more people are buying products in this category, but spending overall is flat from 2009 to 2013. This suggests that people are either swapping out individual card purchases for boxed cards, which may represent a better value. Danziger explains that since more people are looking at and buying boxed card sets, this presents an opportunity for growth among card marketers to box up more cards into sets. She also says retailers can inspire more boxed card sales by creating interesting displays of mixed merchandise that include boxed cards. So rather than setting up a section of the store devoted just to boxed card displays, they should include boxed cards with various thematic displays cards to encourage impulse purchase and add on sales.

Custom-printed card trends -- Custom-printed cards are benefiting from emerging internet vendors that offer online design and custom printing services, as well as the growth in digital photography., and are the top marketers in this category, based upon the survey results. And because this represents an opportunity for rapid growth, there are also many emerging competitors. Danziger therefore advises new companies to study the competition carefully and find a unique and strategic competitive advantage in order to compete more effectively with established competitors. In addition, retailers that have traditionally offered film-processing services are also getting into the custom-printing business. So drug stores, mass merchants and grocery stores are also vying for their share of the custom-printing greeting card business.

More about the new study of the greeting card market

Unity Marketing has taken the results of a new 2013 survey among greeting card customers and compiled it with two previous surveys from 2007 and 2009 to provide a comprehensive view of the greeting card market. The Greeting Card Market 2013 report includes market size, including key segments of the greeting card market such as individual cards, boxed cards and customized greetings. It also studies trends in the channels of distribution as customers turn to new types of stores in which to buy greetings. It tracks historic trends in customers' preferences for different types of cards, different themes, different formats, and special features, such as musical enhancements, ecologically-friendly inks and papers. This study also examines the four different personalities of greeting card customers and shares how marketers and retailers can maximize sales to each specific type of customers.

About Pam Danziger & Unity Marketing

Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights for marketers targeting the affluent consumer. She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992. Pam received the 2007 Global Luxury Award for top luxury industry achievers presented at the Global Luxury Forum by Harper's Bazaar. Luxury Daily named Pam to its list of "Women to Watch in 2013."
Pam gives luxury marketers "All Access" to the mind of the luxury consumer. She uses qualitative and quantitative market research to learn about their brand preferences, shopping habits, and attitudes about their luxury lifestyles, then turns these insights into actionable strategies for marketers to use to reach these high spending consumers.
Pam's latest book is Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury: How new consumer values are redefining the way we market luxury (Paramount Market Publishing, 2011). Her other books include Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience, published by Kaplan Publishing in October 2006; Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses-as well as the Classes,(Dearborn Trade Publishing, $27, hardcover) and Why People Buy Things They Don't Need.

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