Trouble Brewing in the Greeting Card Market
Hallmark and American Greetings are making structural changes to their businesses in response to shifts in consumer demand and purchasing behavior around greeting cards
October 9, 2012 Stevens, PA -- Almost simultaneously the greeting card industry’s leaders announced significant changes to the way they structure and operate their respective businesses. Hallmark just closed its Topeka manufacturing plant to consolidate all printing operations in its Lawrence and Leavenworth facilities. With the plant closure, the company also eliminated 300 jobs from its payroll. In its announcement Hallmark’s senior vice president of production acknowledged that increased use of social media such as Facebook has cut into sales of traditional printed greeting cards.
As for American Greetings, the industry’s second largest marketer, the company reported a loss of $4.3 million in its second quarter ended August 24. While its reported revenues rose $23.6 million or 6 percent, from $370.1 million to $393.8 million, some $26 million of those revenues are attributed to the acquisition of the U.K.-based Clinton Cards. Taking the Clinton Cards’ contribution out of the equation, that suggests that American Greetings’ revenues actually dropped in the period, pointing to similar declines in consumer demand as noted by Hallmark. Perhaps in a move to give the company more leverage as the market for greeting card continues to shift, a group lead by American Greeting’s CEO and chief operating officer announced plans to take the company private by buying up all remaining company stock.
Social media isn’t the only threat to greeting card manufacturers, says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and led researcher in a new study planned on the greeting card, stationery and paper products market. "Mass marketers like Hallmark and American Greetings are challenged by an increased segmentation of the card customers. With less interest in mass-oriented products, demand is growing for more specialty greetings and papers that while more expensive, also are more expressive of people’s individual emotions." Danziger points to brands like Smythson that tap a more specialized customer by offering a range of paper products crafted to their lifestyles and more refined tastes.
“Today the greeting card and stationery market is increasingly shifting from mass to ‘class.’ One-size-cards no longer fit many or most; rather those consumers who value the greeting card and letter writing experience seek out specialty lines with a distinct point of view, like Smythson or online marketers that support personalized messages like FineStationery.com, CafePress.com and Shutterfly.com. Further, our data from previous surveys shows that there are fewer customers today who see greeting cards as relevant to their lifestyles and relationships. This is a key challenge for greeting card marketers: How to maintain relevancy of the greeting card experience in the face of rapidly changing communications alternatives and purchase behavior patterns,” Danziger explains.
To build upon previous research studies conducted by Unity Marketing into the mindset and purchase behavior of the greeting card, stationery and paper goods customers, Unity Marketing is calling for sponsors for a new in-depth consumer survey about their purchases, needs and desires for greeting cards and other specialty paper products. The new research, by tracking trends from 2005, 2007, 2009, will help marketers identify and take advantage of the emerging opportunities within the category for consumers' shifting needs.
Click this link to learn more about the new study.
This research will give marketers and retailers with a NEED TO KNOW about the future of the greeting card, stationery and paper goods markets a cost-effective solution for customized consumer research. A quantitative consumer survey will focus on both greeting card, stationery and paper goods buying behavior, including spending, as well as the motivations and drives that propel the consumer in the marketplace.
We will learn about both male and female buying patterns, as well as the different motivations that drive consumers in their quest for these goods. We will also explore the generational aspects of this market. We will learn how the younger and older consumers for paper goods differ in their product preferences and buying and shopping behavior.
Research Sponsors Guide and Direct the Research So that It Meets Their Specific Needs
In order to make sure that this new consumer research focuses on the issues of most importance to greeting card, stationery and paper goods marketers and retailers, Unity Marketing offers sponsorships to companies who want to be more involved in the research. As a research sponsor, your company will be involved in designing the survey questionnaire and report outline. The research will be 'semi-custom' as company sponsors will contribute directly to the research. Here are the deliverables:
- Input on the questions included in the survey, including addition of questions
- Your company's major product category and/or type of store included in the survey
- Your company's brand name will be included in the brand awareness and purchase incidence questions
- Topline quantitative survey results with demographic cross-tabs within one week of survey fielding
- Detailed analysis report
- Webinar and telephone consultation about key findings and implications
- Plus you will get an early read on the results of the research ahead of everybody else and insider information only available to sponsors.
Sponsors Get the Competitive Edge
As a sponsor, you'll participate in learning what drives the greeting card, stationery and paper goods buyer in shopping and product selection. You will discover how to tap into consumers' passion for these goods in order to design new products to meet new needs. You will learn how to sell more of your company's or store's products. You'll get a view 'over the horizon' about where the paper goods market is going and find out how to get out in front of the consumer.
Exclusive sponsorships are also available for marketers that want to maximize their competitive edge.
Respond Immediately -- Time Is Limited
If you are interested in participating in the stationery goods research project, please call me at 717-336-1600, complete the request form by clicking here or respond by email to email@example.com right away. Please respond by October 31, 2012 if you are interested in participating.