Useful Data for Greeting Card Companies

The market for greetings cards and other similar products is expanding rapidly. More and more companies are venturing into the market, either with paper products, ‘gift boxes’ or e-cards. Understanding the market is key to success, and there are a number of market research agencies that are working on collecting and providing data for greeting card companies.

Sentiments and Celebrations

Online and offline operators are capitalizing on some new, innovative ideas to find ways of attracting the attention fo the market. This has helped to give industry operators an edge over some of the more mundane bricks and mortar “gift stores” and “birthday specialists”. By arming themselves with information, the companies that make cards can empower themselves to grow their market share.

The latest data for greeting card companies shows that the industry has seen the growth of 6.2 percent per year, on average, over the last five years, and it remains a resilient sector even in the face of digital downloads and a difficult economy.

There was some fear that online sales and retail would cause issues with the entire greetings industry. It’s certainly true that things have changed over the last few years. Hallmark slashed their workforce by more than half between 2010 and 2015, for example, but it is still a sector that is strong and promising.

According to the Greeting Card Association, the issue is not sales – the number of birthday/mother’s day/congratulations, etc cards that have been sold over the last few years has remained steady, and total sales are somewhere between €7 and €8 billion. The issue is that the brands are not making as much money. There is less profit in the stock printing business in part because the idea of going into a shop to buy one single birthday card is not a common thing anymore.

More and more consumers are either subscribing to services that send packages of valentines, festive cards and more. Another thing that is proving popular is custom, personalized greetings and gift boxes that can be ordered online. These are low-margin, but high volume in terms of sales, and are eating into the number of traditional, off-the-shelf products that are sold.

The seasonal items for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc are the most popular, with other niche items such as sympathy, get well, sorry you’re leaving and ‘congratulations’ being more niche sellers.

Who Does The Buying?

One interesting piece of data for greeting card companies is that women are the main buyers. They account for 80% of all sales, and they spend more time picking out the perfect purchase too. They are also more likely to buy more than one product each time, and they are more likely to spend more money on them.

Prices vary from as little as 50 cents to up to €10 for a flasher, padded or fabric card or a very large one. there are new products with LED lights and sound chips, or with QR codes or AR imagery n them, and there are handmade, custom items that can run to the higher end of the price range. The average price is somewhere between two and four euros.

Most people who buy them feel that they are essential as an addition to a gift, or something that is given to co-workers, friends, or other close acquaintances. Many people say that they plan to stop sending out physical greetings, either to save money or to save waste, however, so far the actual data in terms of units sold goes against the idea that people are buying fewer per year.

It is interesting to note, however, that according to data collected by Hoover’s, almost all of the revenue for the industry in Ireland comes from the top 50 manufacturers. The smaller, niche manufacturers produce so little in terms of revenue that they are not statistically significant.

Shrinking Opportunities But a Strong Market

The Irish market is showing signs of weakness, although it is still a huge sector, and 90 percent of homes do make at least a handful of purchases per year. The days when general correspondence would be done in this format are long gone, but the special occasions corner of the market is holding strong, and some innovative manufacturers are focusing on the idea of the “card as a gift” as a way of retaining their audience and making a profit.

Internationally, there are opportunities – sales in the UK are growing, and there is even a market for premium e-greetings, although it is hard to differentiate the free and premium services in that industry. In Australia, more than half of all sales in the niche are generated by just two companies.

There is hope for companies that are willing to innovate – 3D and pop-up greetings are proving popular, and there is a market for subversive, progressive, and fun greetings as well. The sentimental messages, flowers and cute animals that dominated a decade or two ago are no longer appealing to a huge portion of the customer base but the idea of greetings that are more in touch with the community and population, in general, is growing in popularity.

When you consider the number of well-wishers and friendly notes that the average person gets each Birthday and for Christmas or whatever religious festival they choose to celebrate, it’s easy to understand why the celebrations industry is still going strong. The companies that collect and build upon buying habit data will be in good stead long term.