Birthdays, holidays, congratulations, thank you, weddings, sympathy, get well soon, or simply no reason at all. These are just a few of the multitudes of reasons and occasions for which one might decide to send a greeting card. The average person in the United States will receive 20 greeting cards per year, one-third of which are birthday related greetings (GCA). The American greeting card industry has been in existence since the late 1800’s and has involved into a highly profitable sector of the retail sales world consisting of countless competitors both big and small. As a whole, the United States card market is a $7.5 billion industry that has unfortunately seen flat to slightly declining growth over the past five years (USA Today). This market analysis of the United States greeting card industry will focus on key industry players, the customers, historical perspectives of the industry, financials, and marketing channels.
Nearly two-thirds of all American adults have purchased a greeting card at one time or another in their life whether it be a special occasion or non-occasion card (Market Research). According to the Greeting Card Association, approximately 80% of all greeting cards are purchased by women (The Greeting Card: General Facts, 2008) in the 35-65 year old age range whose household contains at least one person holding a steady job (Market Research). To speak more in depth regarding the common greeting card purchaser, average age of purchaser is 41.9 years old with an average household income of $63,600 (findarticles). The remainder of the cards are obviously being purchased by men, particularly those of Hispanic descent (Market Research). An interesting fact to mention is that even though women are more likely to purchase more cards at one time than men, a man is more likely to spend more on a single card than a woman (GCA). According to the Greeting Card Association, the US greeting card industry is most often segmented into two groups- consumers purchasing “seasonal” cards and those purchasing “everday” cards. Seasonal cards include Christmas (60% volume within the segment), Valentine's Day (25% volume), Mother's Day (4% volume), Easter (3% volume), and Father's Day (3% volume) cards. Included within the everyday segment is Birthday (60% volume within the segment), Anniversary (8% volume), Get Well (7% volume), Friendship (6% volume), and Sympathy cards (6% volume). Total card sales between both the seasonal and everyday segments are split approximately 50/50 (GCA). The Greeting Card Association reports that the majority of Americans purchase and send greeting cards to family and/or friends in order to make them truly feel special and cared for. This must be true since nine out of ten Americans report that they anticipate the arrival of a greeting card because they allow them to keep in touch with friends and family and the greeting card also lets them feel like someone else thinks that they are important (GCA). On the other hand, another survey reports that approximately half of greeting card recipients “buy greeting cards largely because somebody else expects to receive a card. They are not motivated by any deep-seated desire to communicate through a carefully chosen greeting card” (Unity Marketing). It can be said that there definitely is some areas of unmet consumer need within the greeting card industry. Cards with messages and wording geared towards the “urban” market is one of the areas lacking as well as cards with pictures and drawings depicting minority children. Another area overlooked is greetings with “modern inspiration”. Christian and other religious type cards can be found in certain markets and retailers, but cards with contemporary designs to express biblical messages is still felt to be an area of unmet need (USA Today). These small niche areas are being focused on by smaller speciality greeting card publishers that distribute their products via...
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