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Consumers seek out highly detailed cards


Despite the instant satisfaction of texts or social media messages, consumers are still demanding paper greeting cards, and they are craving more unique and luxurious cards than ever before.

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According to the Greeting Card Association, cards featuring special techniques, intricate designs and new technologies are at the top of consumers’ wish lists. GCA said premium cards that feature lots of detail and unique designs also should be able to command higher prices.

Overall, greeting cards still generate $7 billion to $8 billion in revenue annually, according to Gifts and Decorative Accessories’ recent Gift Book Consumer survey in 2016. The survey found that 92% of respondents said they purchase at least one card per year, and 5% of respondents said they purchase 50 or more annually, according to GCA. Survey respondents said they buy an average of 16.7 cards per year. Birthdays are still tops as a card-giving occasion, but consumers also tend to buy greeting cards for such occasions as Mother’s and Father’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentines’ Day, anniversaries, weddings and graduations.

The challenge for retailers and suppliers is to offer a selection that will satisfy these card customers, who might otherwise order physical cards online.

“Consumers are now craving the ‘touchy-feely,’ where the textures of a product feel real and created by an artist. So, the materials in a card really matter,” said Amy McAnarney, VP and general manager, customer development-chain drug at Hallmark. “That’s one of the reasons our premium card line — Hallmark Signature — is so popular. This holiday season, the ‘hand-crafted’ trend will continue, and we’ll be delivering a variety of cards to meet that need.”

There also is a significant trend toward high-tech greeting cards, such as musical cards or greeting cards that contain LED lights or toys. At the same time, as more greeting cards go high-tech, there is a growing appreciation for handmade cards. This type of card will continue to grow in popularity as a balance to high-tech cards, suppliers say.

Boston-based greeting card start-up Lovepop makes physical cards that are custom designed and highly engineered in 3-D. The laser-cut designs have generated roughly $1 million in sales this year, according to the company.

But the smaller card companies aren’t the only ones innovating when it comes to physical cards.

“Hallmark has invested in a Greetings Innovation Lab composed of designers, engineers, editors and marketers that explores all aspects of innovation, including the digital space,” McAnarney said. “In the next few months, we’ll be able to share more about exciting new digital/audio/visual innovations for 2017.

The Hallmark Greetings Innovation Lab already has produced a plethora of innovations in the fourth quarter.

  • Halloween 2016. Each card in the Spooky Doors line doubles as a door that not only opens but invites the recipient into a story about a cranky mummy, a hungry fridge monster, a conniving kitten or a vampire bartender. The cards include pop-ups and paper-craft effects, as well as audio.

  • Holiday 2016. Four new innovations are coming for the holidays, including new visual merchandising tools. Caroling Pets feature animals singing holiday carols. With Hugger Pops, each card doubles as a displayable character that can be used as a holiday decoration. For the Tooters line, the name says it all. Consumers will enjoy a holiday laugh with these card characters who “let it all out.” Finally the Holiday Lights line takes holiday light displays to a new level. These light and sound cards include silver foil inside the card to enhance the light reflection.

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