November 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
It’s the time of the year when we begin thinking about sending holiday greetings to friends and family far and wide. Will it be an online greeting this year or a sentimental real paper card with pictures of the family and a special note? Will it be written in cursive or typed away on a convenient laptop? Will it be mailed with a 46-cent stamp or whisked through the web at no cost?
Have we lost our social graces? Or are we entering a new phase of how we relate our love? It seems we are in a cultural shift brought about by technology, budget concerns, digital natives and time deprivation.
Decline of Traditional Greetings
The United States Postal Service, which has its own problems, reported that the number of greeting cards mailed within the US declined by 24 percent from 2002 to 2010 and is still dropping. A perfect storm of migration to online services, a financial recession, busy lifestyles and younger digital consumers are creating new traditions for holidays and special days like birthdays.
A greeting cards industry report this year from IbisWorld says the sale of traditional cards has fallen by 60 percent over the last decade, to $5 billion a year. Last year Hallmark reported that their 2012 card sales dropped to 5 billion, from 6 billion in 2011. And American Greetings has had to go private after a 60% decline in revenue.
Growth of Digital Greetings
Remember your birthday this year? Chances are you got more Facebook Birthday greetings than you ever received cards? Why? Well, it’s so easy. Facebook reminds you. And you can even send a gift card if you want to really express some love. With Facebook, those annual holiday letters are not as important anymore. We see regular updates of our friends and know what is going on in their lives.
All the while, e-greetings are growing. Online card sales (both e-cards and custom printed ones) have grown to $3.5 billion in 2012 from just $65 million a decade ago. Both Hallmark, the number one provider, and American Greetings, the number two, have digital greetings divisions. And there are a plethora of other greetings companies like Egreetings, Blue Mountain, someecards and Dayspring. The trends are to more personalized or more irreverent cards than the traditional drugstore cards.
Growth of Handmade Cards
At the same time, there is a resurgence in small companies that provide special handmade cards. With a higher price than normal cards, the handmade card is actually the gift itself. There is also a big business in crafting for card making. Just ask the ladies at my church who make very special cards with special design stamps, craft supplies, pictures and glue.
So what’s your choice this year? Let me know how you will share your holiday greetings?