Submitted by: Sam Upton March 31, 2020
At the time of writing, sons and daughters up and down the land will be scouring their local store for the perfect Mother’s Day card. The stocking up of essential cupboard items will be temporarily put on hold to make time to find the ideal mix of sentimentality, image and design – or for the younger buyer, humour.
Fortunately there are a lot of cards to choose from. Mother’s Day is one of the most popular times in the greeting cards calendar. Along with Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day and, of course, birthdays and Christmas, greetings cards remain hugely popular, with the UK spending over £1.7bn a year on this most traditional medium. One in every six retail outlets now sell cards and it’s estimated that charities raise over £50m every year from the sale of Christmas cards alone1.
The rise and rise of greeting cards
Ten years ago, the writing was on the wall for the greeting cards industry. With digital transformation affecting every area of industry and commerce, it was widely thought that the exponential rise of social media would see e-cards very quickly replace physical greeting cards. After all, you don’t need to buy a stamp and delivery is instant.
But that change never came. People not only continued to buy and send physical cards, but sales actually increased – the emotional connection that comes when you hand over a card with a personal message far outweighing the convenience of the e-card. The internet didn’t even have much effect on where people bought their cards from: 94% of cards are still purchased in bricks and mortar stores1.
“We’ve been doing cards since 1987 and we’ve grown our sales every year,” says Paul Woodmansterne, CEO of Woodmansterne Cards.
The ‘no occasion’ card
A curious fact about the UK greeting cards market is that the industry is being driven not by the older demographic but by Generation Z, the 18-24 year-olds. Assumed to communicate by social media alone, young people are actually buying more cards than any other age group. Whether it’s the novelty of sending someone a handwritten message or millennials needing to be cheered up, they are going for cards in a big way.
One reason could be the rise of the ‘no occasion’ cards, ones that give a message of support or offers of emotional help. There are now thousands of cards that say something along the lines of ‘I’m proud of you’ or ‘You’re doing great!’. Last year, the Samaritans partnered with Moonpig to launch a range of personalised cards with messages such as “Matthew, I’m not sure how to help but if you need me, I’m here.”
The digital print connection
One of the biggest changes to the greetings card industry over the past few years has been the rise of digital printing. Being able to order a relatively small amount of any one design has meant that more and more small card companies have been able to get more and more creative, giving the customer a vast amount of choice.
Trends in card design change as often as high street fashions (current card favourites are sausage dogs and llamas), but the consistent factor is the popularity of the physical card – a simple medium that’s been around for centuries but shows no sign of fading away.
And if you haven’t bought your Mother’s Day card yet, you could always buy a ‘Sorry’ card.
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