Offering a tangible way to connect in these trying times, greeting cards are impervious to social distancing, and the perfect way to let people know they are special. What types of greeting cards will resonate most with consumers in the year ahead, and how can grocers most effectively merchandise the category? WGB asked the experts to weigh in.
“Recent testing has reinforced strong and growing consumer reception for positive humor, encouragement, gratitude, hope, togetherness, kindness and friendship,” says Chip Owen, EVP, Avanti Press Inc., who adds that the Detroit-based company pretests all greetings cards for its three brands (Avanti, A*Press and America) before publishing to ensure each card sends the desired message.
Avanti Press, which says its greeting cards play well in a small footprint in-store and are delivered via a “no-risk business model,” also offers a solution for grocers doing more curbside pickup business than ever before. Avanti’s curbside grab-and-go packs are on deck to support online category expansion.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
“Wearing both of my hats as president of Up With Paper and of the Greeting Card Association, I am pleased to advise that we are quite bullish on greeting cards for 2021, because we believe the top trend in greeting cards in 2021 is simply this: More purchases,” says George White of Up With Paper in Mason, Ohio.
As a high impulse-buy category, greeting cards were adversely affected by fewer shopping trips and smaller store closures due to COVID in 2020. However, there were a few category bright spots, says White.
“Consumer research last year revealed a huge increase in attitudes toward and appreciation of the value of cards to further what is most important—our relationship with others—and in future intentions to purchase cards,” he adds. “As consumers become more willing and able to shop in 2021, we thus anticipate a significant boost in card sales.”
Grocery Chain Mail
“One caveat to this overall greeting card trend is that many grocery chains enjoyed huge greeting card sales boosts in 2020, due to the shutdown of many smaller retailers and the increase in shopping at grocery for a broader basket of goods,” White says.
“We thus do not anticipate grocery seeing the level of increase in card sales that the market as a whole will experience,” continues White, who adds that the more robust greeting card shopping habits formed in 2020 will continue in 2021.
“Finding ways to show people you care every day is a trend we are continuing to see,” says Amy McAnarney, VP and general manager, key accounts and business development, Hallmark, Kansas City, Mo. “The pandemic and the lack of in-person gatherings is reinforcing the need to emotionally connect with the people in our lives, especially when we can’t physically be together. Cards are a simple way for people to reach out to make a meaningful impact by sharing words of kindness, encouragement and gratitude.”
Post After the Pandemic
“We continue to hear from people just how impactful cards are in showing people how much they matter, and we’ve seen positive attitudes toward cards increase even more during the pandemic,” says McAnarney. In 2020, a Hallmark Insights and Analytics survey found that greeting cards, compared to other forms of communication, have the highest growth potential post-pandemic.
“Of the 10,000 survey participants, the overwhelming majority believe the impact of cards are worth the time and effort. More than half of the consumers believe cards are more meaningful than other forms of communication and post-COVID, they intend to increase their card, wrap and gift spending,” McAnarney says.
As the pandemic continues to limit consumers’ shopping trips, grocery stores have become an even more important purveyor of greeting cards. To encourage that trend, Nora Weiser, executive director of the Greeting Card Association in Aurora, Colo., suggests several strategies, including placing a selection of cards near the checkout counter; driving traffic to the greeting card aisle with endcap displays; and featuring mobile card displays in seasonal merchandise, floral and pet aisles.