Greeting cards give the gift of music, voices this season

12/14/2009

NEW YORK Gen Y and Millennial consumers may be big communicators, but they aren’t substituting tweeting and texting for more traditional card-sending opportunities.

Research from American Greetings indicated that younger shoppers appreciate the effort involved in choosing and sending a card, especially given how easy it is to connect today. “Younger consumers see a real value in sending and receiving cards because they recognize the effort and thoughtfulness that goes into it,” said Christy Kaprosy, executive director of business intelligence at AG.

Even the growth of e-cards hasn’t led consumers to abandon paper cards. “While e-cards have become more popular, they haven’t had an impact on sales of traditional cards,” said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the Greeting Card Association. “People rarely substitute one for another.”

“The great news for our category is that, with the explosion of electronic communications, people are communicating more, and we are finding that various forms of communications are complementary to one another,” said Steve Laserson, VP greeting cards at AG.

To keep the category interesting for consumers, manufacturers are delivering a continuous pipeline of innovative products, with such technological enhancements as sound, music and animation.

Miller said new technology, such as audio cards and LED light cards, have brought excitement to the category and have proved that consumers are willing to pay more for products that offer a point of difference, even in a tight economy. “People are willing to move to the higher end if it’s something special,” she said.

“Some of the most popular innovations in 2009 included multibutton sound cards, multisensory pop-up greetings, cards that talk, music and sound envelopes, animated greetings and new formats for recordable greetings that expand personalization even further,” said AG’s Laserson. AG will introduce more innovation beginning on Valentine’s Day, with a focus on providing an even more customized and personalized greeting — something that is important to younger customers.

The company also is integrating more everyday language and phrases that have a personal and familiar feel into card editorial.

AG is targeting younger customers as part of its “new retail stage” merchandising plan. Laserson said drug retailers should dedicate a portion of their marketing plan to reaching the younger consumer who is looking to buy cards, and begin to capture this convenience-driven shopper.

“In the drug channel, consumers are often looking to find the perfect card quickly,” he said. “By calling out our innovation product with specific signage, placing our top performers on endcaps and creating an overall offering that is filled with great variety, we are able to help them achieve this goal.”

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