Question

Topic: Just for Fun

Are Christmas Cards A Dying Product?

Posted by Chris Blackman on 600 Points
I've been pondering this matter as I have gone out to buy Christmas cards and found fewer than usual and even less to my taste.

My personal observation is that over the years Christmas cards seem to have become less important. I receive less, which may be because I send less, but I seem to see them less in other people's homes and offices.

What are the views of the KHE forum on the sending of greeting cards generally? Are people sending less cards than they used to? What products are being used in substitution, if any?

Are Christmas cards particularly affected - more so, say, than birthday cards?

Is the whole greeting card industry in decline?

What would be a good business for greeting card designers and manufacturers to get into instead?
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RESPONSES

  • Posted by Moriarty on Accepted
    To my mind this parallels the question of direct mailings, and their apparent decline. The point is that people do like receiving a letter - or a Christmas card from someone. It has a tangibility that an electronic image lacks.

    Having said that, I use Christmas cards only for my closest friends, family and business associates. Usually they're from a wood-cut or lithograph - and my children used to enjoy helping make them. Well, for the first few days at least ...

    For any industry in decline, there are always possibilities. That is part of a marketer's job after all, but it does require that the businessman listens. If they cannot change along with the market, make use of the advantages newer technologies bring them their businesses will wither. Remember that Google, the biggest online advertiser actually uses postal advertising!

  • Posted by Gary Bloomer on Accepted
    One reason for a decline in available cards could be multi cultural life: not everyone celebrates Christmas. I've sent fewer cards in recent years. Many of my friends and family live in the UK and the expense of sending cards from my home in the USA certainly factors in to the equation.

    With e-mail, instant messaging, video chat, and every social media platform known to mankind, it may be that many of us feel in closer contact with our social circles that we've traditionally been. I've found fewer designs appeal to me in terms of mass produced cards. I've made my own cards for years, although these days I send fewer and fewer: I simply don't have the time.That said, I think the greeting card industry is still pretty robust, although I'm sure profit margins are thinner than they've been in recent memory.
  • Posted by Peter (henna gaijin) on Accepted
    Cards are dying. Not going to die next year or year after, but slowly the numbers will drop. Our electronic life now has us sending holiday greetings by email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    I think this is like the film camera business switching to digital cameras. Not sure I have a great suggestion for where they could change to.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    As a trend, it's waning: https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/20/birthday-greetings-now-sent-over-...

    As a reason, I think Gary nailed it: we're simply more connected, and it's easier to send wishes from our keyboards (which we spend more time in front of) than our post offices (less time there).

    Also, I think online there's simply more choices (and easier-to-find) for messaging than exists in the pre-made card marketplace.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
  • Posted on Accepted
    Though standard cards are in decline, one sector doing well are the customised cards where you can add images and text and which are printed and mailed for you (in the UK there's Moonpig and Funky Pigeon). There's still a frisson of excitement when someone receives a letter out of the blue so maybe we're moving into less bulk and more quality cards.
  • Posted by Chris Blackman on Author
    Jay, your link to The Atlantic article (9:37 AM on 11/28) is fascinating in that it says"The Greeting Card Association estimates that 1.6 billion Christmas cards will be purchased this year, a small increase from last year. A report from the research firm, IBISWorld, anticipates that cards and postage will be the highest they've been in five years -- $3.17 billion total. And finally, the card industry's biggest player, Hallmark, has had revenues of around $4.0 billion dollars since the mid-2000s, without much growth or decline." The UK Greeting Card Association posts similar figures - sales may be flat, but they are not in decline. (See https://www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk/info-resource/market-info/facts-...).

    I found a document that looks like Minutes of a Meeting of the World Alliance of the Greetings Card Associations at https://www.greetingcard.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=9rp9k5ozdYs%3D&t... which talks about issues with retailer confidence, rising postage rates and fragmentation of the business becoming issues, but nobody seemed ready to fold their tent at that stage (just under two years ago).

    A representative from the US GCA says that Facebook is helping them - people re-establish connections with old friends and add them to their real-world Christmas card list (the original friend list?)

    So in summary, there are confusing signs out there. Retailers who complain of flagging sales might do well to look at how they are executing their strategies in-store rather than questioning whether the whole business has gone away. Me, I'm getting my list together right now...

    Thanks everyone.

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