Greeting Card Industry Market Analysis

Published: 2021-09-04 04:45:13
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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. Customer Analysis 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 small shops and boutiques. The smaller publishers can more easily meet the needs of different groups within their geographic regions. Competitor Analysis Competition within the US Greeting Card Publishing Market is great. The two major companies in the market are Hallmark, the largest privately held company, and American Greetings, the largest publicly held company (“Greeting cards (SIC 2771)”).
Smaller companies include CSS Industries Inc, Healthy Planet Products, Paraiso Publishers, Inc, Sellers Publishers, Inc, and a large number of privately-held publishers. The Greeting Card Association states that there are over 3000 Greeting Card Publishers in the United States (“The Greeting Card: General Facts”). E-Greeting companies/ websites are among the largest indirect competition for the Greeting Card Publishing Market. Companies like Blue Mountain Arts launched websites to ffer convenience for people who wanted the convenience of sending a greeting to people through the internet. While e-greetings are popular and convenient, websites now offer free e-greetings, leading to many founders of this industry to fold. Many of the greeting card publishers responded by adding e-greetings to their corporate websites. Florists are also indirect competition for greeting card publishers. The tradition of giving flowers for special occasions was established long before the mass publishing of greeting cards evolved.
Off-shoots of the floral industry that also compete with Greeting cards are Cookie and Edible Bouquet companies and Candy companies. The craft industry is also an indirect competitor to the greeting card industry, as the popularity and acceptance of home-made cards has evolved in the recent decade. The availability of cardstock, attractively printed scrapbook paper and rubber stamp supplies at reasonable prices has given this industry a boost for competition. Another indirect competitor is the software industry.
The development of card-making computer software during the emergence of personal computers in the 1990s forward has given consumers a convenient means to produce their own personalized greeting cards within the comfort of their home or office. The improvements of printers have given these cards better quality, making this software lucrative to the consumer. Products that can be considered substitutes include floral bouquets, edible bouquets, post cards, and home-made/ hand-made cards.
More recently, candy companies have begun producing candybar wrappers that convey greetings, such as birth announcements, seasonal greetings or thank you. The major greeting card publishers have developed strategic marketing groups to capture as much sales as possible. One of these groups is a group negatively referred to as “Hallmark Holiday” group. This group focuses on “commercially invented” holidays, such as Sweetest Day (developed by American Greetings and only focused in Michigan, Ohio and Illinois), Bosses Day, Administrative Assistant Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and Valentines Day. “Hallmark Holiday”) Sales in this category are estimated to make up approximately 15% of greeting card sales. (US Department of Commerce). Birthday and Anniversary cards top the everyday greeting card sales, capturing approximately 25% of greeting card sales annually. (“Greeting cards (SIC 2771)”) Because today’s consumers are becoming less traditional and more trendy, greeting card publishers are using less poetry and more strategic partnering with brands such as Disney, Nickelodeon, ABC, NBC, HBO, and major movie production studios to use characters and phrases in their productions.
This draws greater attention, but also costs more because the publishers have to pay for licensing agreements with those other companies. (“Hallmark History”) Seasonal and Religious holidays are also a focus of the greeting card publishers’ strategic marketing. With the foundation of the US being built on religious freedom, acceptance of a wide variety of religious holidays is widely accepted. Examples are Baptisms/ Christenings, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Bar/ Bat Mitzvah, Easter, and Christmas. The sales of this group are estimated to be approximately 50% of all greeting card sales. US Department of Commerce) Christmas cards account for 61% of sales within this category (“Greeting Cards – Industry Snapshot”) Another Strategic marketing group focuses on cultural groups within the US. Lines of greeting cards for African-Americans, Hispanics, Germans and Russians have been developed, focusing on their culture, language and historical significance. These lines of cards emerged mainly in the 2000s in response to the increased national focus on diversity and cultural acceptance (“Greeting cards (SIC 2771)”)
Finally, a focused strategic group concentrates on “non occasion” cards. This focus includes “alternative” cards that help convey thoughts and messages around subjects as drug-addiction recovery, divorce, step-parents, and daily “pick-me-up” humor. These thoughts and messages might have once been conveyed through written letters, but with the increased pressure of too-much-to-do, not-enough-time world, these cards have become a fast and easy way for consumers to convey their thoughts quickly and conveniently.
Sales of the Cultural and “non occasion” categories make up approximately 10% of the total greeting card sales (US Department of Commerce). Hallmark and American Greetings hold 80% of the total market share of the Greeting Card industry, each holding approximately 40% a piece. CSS Industries holds a 5% market share, allowing all of the small companies in the industry to make up the final 15% of market share (Google Finance and “CSS Industries, Inc”). Within the competition of the greeting card market, Hallmark and American Greetings both have distinguishing characteristics.
Hallmark has built its reputation on the word “hallmark” which is a symbol that Goldsmiths use to mark quality goods. They portray that they are the highest standard in greeting cards by using the “Gold Crown” symbol. They have chosen to license with other high-standard, high-notability companies as Crayola, Disney, and DaySpring. The marriage of Hallmark and these distinguishing names conveys the high standards that consumers would want to purchase to make a status statement to the recipient of their greeting card. (“Hallmark History”)
Yet, because Hallmark licenses with such notable companies and convey high-standard, unquestionable quality cards, their prices tended to be very high compared to their competition for a long period of time. This was good for competition, as consumers looked for alternative companies to offer them equal quality at lower prices. Finally, Hallmark reacted and launched several low-end price lines of cards, but certainly had to compromise the quality they were proud of. Hallmark’s strategic perspective is to pay attention to consumer insights and pay attention to product innovations. Listening to consumers, identifying new insights from those consumers, and translating those insights into new products and services are essential for success in this competitive marketplace and difficult economy. All of our businesses are embracing this approach and we expect a continued focus on product innovation in our core businesses will ensure our long-term success,” states Hallmark President and CEO, Donald J. Hall, Jr. in 2007 (“Hallmark Reports Increases in 2007 Revenues and Earnings”) American Greetings, on the other hand, was built on the idea of conveying feelings and sentiments through changing times.
American Greetings has been very successful in changing and adapting to the trends of the world. While they also licensed with companies, they chose to partner with trendy characters-of-the-time, like Holly Hobbie in the 1970s, the Care Bears in the 1980s and Barney in the 1990s. AG launched the Hi Brow style of card, cards with humor and whit that are tall and slim. This launch was in reaction to the American movement to move beyond tradition and look for new and exciting ways to communicate through cards (“American Greetings History”).
Because American Greetings did not market themselves to be the highest standard in the industry, they were often viewed as a lesser alternative to a Hallmark card. American Greetings had and continues to work very hard to prove to consumers that their products are just as good as or better than their competition. AG also depends a great deal on consumer feedback and reacts to that feedback by continuously innovating their card lines to fit the consumer needs. Industry Perspectives Greeting Card Publishing is distinguished in the industry by the specifics of production of material greeting cards.
Most of the major competitors in the greeting card industry are also involved in the production of other “Stationary Products”, such as wrapping paper, gift bags, decorative writing papers and envelopes and ribbons. Greeting cards have a very large consumer span, as the industry has developed itself to have cards for most every holiday, special occasion, race, religion, and income level. The US greeting card industry was started in reaction to postcard consumers’ desire for more privacy in their communications in 1915 by Joyce Clyde and Rollie Hall. They sold their picture postcards with envelopes in reaction o the consumer’s desires. Because a bad fire destroyed their office and inventory, placing the brothers in debt, they chose to purchase their own printing presses and produce their own cards. They supplemented their greeting card revenue with the sale of their fancy envelope lining paper, resulting in modern gift wrap. (“Hallmark History”) Also in the late 1910s, Jacob Sapirstein and his family were purchasing fancy penny postcards, stuffing them into envelopes and selling them to drug stores, novelty shops and confectioners in Cleveland. By 1921, the Sapirstein family made a profit of $1000. 0 annually, the modern-day equivalent to $9,000 take-home pay.
Their business really grew when Euclid Beach Amusement Park bought $24,000. 00 worth of cards to sell in their gift shops. (“American Greetings History”) By 1923, the Hall brothers had 120 employees and moved into a 6-story manufacturing facility. It was at this point that they incorporated the company as Hall Brothers, Inc. and their brand appeared on their products. The brothers were very progressive with their marketing, leading to fast consumer recognition. They sponsored radio shows and placed ads in Ladies Home Journal. “Hallmark History”) In 1929 the Sapierstein Family created the first self-serve greeting card display fixture that offered convenience for shoppers. Prior to this, customers had to flip through an album and ask a shopkeeper to retrieve the card. This innovation pushed the ease of greeting card shopping, leading to increased sales (“American Greetings History”). 1944 brought the Hall Brothers to use their first slogan “When you care enough to give the very best”. That same year, the Saperstein family incorporated their company as American Greetings Publishers, Inc. Then, in 1950, Hallmark trademarked their Golden Crown as their logo.
Hallmark also opened their own retail stores, selling their greeting cards and gift wrap in the 1950s. (“Hallmark Cards, Inc”) While Hallmark chose to sign licensing agreements with such companies as Disney, American Greetings launched a line of cards with their own character, Holly Hobbie, in 1967. Holly Hobbie was the most popular female licensed character in the world by the 1970s, paving American Greetings way to capturing a larger share of the greeting card market. American Greetings continued on their creative innovations by launching new characters like Strawberry Shortcake and the Care Bears during the 1980s.
This creative period allowed American Greetings to gain further market share through net incomes that increased 613% during the decade (“American Greetings”) Hallmark started to feel great pressure and declining market share in the 1990s. Hallmark had vested its retail sales in specialty card and gift stores, which in 1990, numbered over 10,000 nationally. Because more women were now working full time and were short on extra time to stop at those specialty stores, they desired more convenient places to get their greeting cards, such as drug stores, grocery stores and large chain stores.
Hallmark struggled because they had boxed themselves into their retail distribution means, while American Greetings was able to react quickly to these demands. During the 1990s both companies continued to innovate and develop lines of cards in reaction to the consumers’ ever-changing needs and wants. Both companies began to acquire smaller, yet aggressively creative competitors. Hallmark found it’s market share moved from 47% in 1997 to 52% in 1999(“Hallmark Cards, Inc”), while American Greetings reported that their sales were growing by 10% each year, giving them 35% Market share in 1999. “American Greetings”) In 1996, American Greetings partnered with several internet providers to offer customized greeting cards purchased through a website to be mailed directly to the recipient. They also developed greeting card software to allow consumers to create and print or e-mail their greetings (“American Greetings History”). Hallmark chose to place pay-for-use e-greetings on their corporate website, not openly marketing or promoting this segment of business, while American Greetings continued to partner with internet providers to offer limited free e-cards, in hopes of gaining additional sales of pay-for-use e-greetings.
The acquisition of Gibson Greetings by American Greetings in 2000 increased their market share to 40%, with Hallmark dropping to 45%. (“American Greetings” and “Hallmark Cards, Inc”) Online greetings will continue to overtake the printed greeting card market, as the US way-of-life continues to race. Convenience and quality at the lowest possible price drive consumers’ choices between the competitors in the market. While both companies have reacted to the changing and evolving diversity of the US culture, they can continue to create lines of cards to focus on every-day situations and emotions.
The gay and lesbian segment of consumers is not fully captured, as well. Within Porter’s Five Forces, Ease of Entry into the industry is difficult. While there are many creative sources and many print production capabilities in the US, the diversity in product lines of greeting cards by the major companies does not allow for new entrants to dominate or show uniqueness. The Force of the Power of Suppliers is not strong within the industry, as the availability of domestic and imported papergoods, ink and printing equipment is widely available and can be easily substituted by a competitive supplier when necessary.
The Force of the Power of the Buyer, on the other hand, is very strong in this industry. The availability of substitute and competitive products and brands, along with the convenience and demand for quality at the lowest possible price give buyers a large amount of power. The Force of Availability of Substitutes is also great within the industry, as consumers have a choice to purchase a greeting card, send a bouquet of flowers or edible bouquet, or using an e-card.
The Force of Competition within the industry is also great, as all of the competitors are watching each other, creating products for niche segments of the market and widely advertising their cards for those segments. They compete for the availability of their products within convenient retailers for best exposure to their consumers. Based on the Five Forces, it would seem that the Greeting Card industry would not be a lucrative choice for new businesses to attempt to enter.
As it has proven to be quite difficult to obtain a true cost-structure for the entire greeting cards industry as a whole, we’ve decided to address the cross structure of American Greetings, one of the two key stakeholders in this market. It is also hard to compare our results to those of the other key player, Hallmark, since the organization is a privately held company. However, it is our opinion that one can make an assumption that both industry leaders utilize a similar cost structure. All of the following information is based off of the 2008 Fiscal Year report for American Greetings.
Based upon total revenue, material, labor, and production costs require 43. 9%; selling, distribution, and marketing require a 35% take (a minimal percentage of revenue is used for advertising). Administrative and general expenses, which include payroll, employee benefits, and IT-related projects use 14. 1% of total revenue. (American Greetings FY report) Another interesting fact to notate is that according to the Greeting Card Association, an artist that is only looking to “sell” their designs and ideas to a large-scale publisher such as Hallmark or American greetings will need an estimated $20,000 in tart-up capital to have a chance at being successful (Campus Chronicle). The life cycle position of the greeting card industry is currently on the verge of “maturity-saturation”. As there still is room for additional players in the market, those new to the market will be required to have substantial capital, inventive ideas, and major innovative cost-cutting strategies. It is virtually impossible for any marketer to figure out a way to sell more greeting cards to more people more often for more money under the existing greeting card marketing paradigm (Unity Marketing).
Many greeting card publishers have expanded their offerings to now also include gift wrap, party ware, stationary, home decor, and internet-based offerings. This is just one sign that the greeting card market is highly saturated and nearing the maturity stage. There are many trends within the industry that are currently taking place. Some of these trends are due to social changes within the American environment.
Greetings cards geared towards the non-traditional family, tributes to military personnel, and cards with inspirations from famous Christian authors are starting to dot the shelves of retailers (USA Today). Other current observable trends are cards are “going green” by using recycled materials, cards that are “imprintable” and can be customized on a computer at home by the purchaser, cards with embellishments, and cards that are “Made in the USA” (Campus Chronicle). One final trend of the industry is to secure licensing arrangements with popular characters from movies and television (Answers. om). American Greetings has the rights to the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake while Hallmark has made arrangements with Disney and Crayola. Being efficient at what you do is a success factor for almost every industry and the greeting card industry is no different. Leaders in this industry have highly developed distribution and marketing research and promotion systems. For both current and future success, greeting-card vendors must be at the forefront of responding to shifts in consumer tastes or identifying the latest trends (Answers. om). Greeting card publishers must also be able to provide the product at the right price. With increasing costs and decreasing budgets, it is a fairly reasonable assumption that the consumer will not be willing to pay higher costs for a greeting card. Environmental Analysis Increases in raw material and energy costs may materially raise the cost of goods sold and materially impact profitability throughout the greeting card industry. Paper is a significant expense in the production of greeting cards.
Significant increases in paper prices, which have been volatile in past years, or increased costs of other raw materials or energy, such as fuel, may result in declining margins and operating results if market conditions prevent us from passing these increased costs on to customers through timely price increases on greeting cards” (AG Annual Report). “Bankruptcy of key retail customers could give rise to an inability to pay the card publishers and increase exposure to losses from bad debts.
Many of the industry’s largest customers are mass-market retailers. The mass-market retail channel in the U. S. has experienced significant shifts in market share among competitors in recent years, causing large retailers to experience liquidity problems and file for bankruptcy protection. There is a risk that these key customers will not pay the publishers, or that payment may be delayed because of bankruptcy or other factors beyond our control, which could increase exposure to losses from bad debts and our deferred cost assets.
Additionally business results of operations and financial condition could be materially and adversely affected if these mass-market retailers were to cease doing business as a result of bankruptcy, or significantly reduce the number of stores they operate” (AG Financial Report). Greeting card publishers are beginning to become more environmentally friendly with their inks and coatings. They are beginning to use soy and vegetable based inks that do not give off toxins into the environment when they are manufactured. The coatings in the printing process are moving toward water-based coatings. (“Why Choose a Green Printer? ) Traditionally used Petroleum-based inks contain metals and hazardous solvents that omit VOCs into the soil and atmosphere. (“Greeting Card Publisher The Gallery Collection announces Use of Vegetable-based Inks”. ) The use of vegetable-based inks also reduce the use of water in manufacturing printing plants because it reduces the number of times that a printing press has to be pressure washed to get ink residue off of the equipment (“Current Sunrise Practices That Reduce Impact on the Environment”). Greeting Card publishers also must become more conscious of the disposal of the waste from their manufacturing processes.
Companies are beginning to reduce their carbon footprint by sending the chemical and ink waste to hazardous waste companies to be incinerated. They are using Aluminum printing plates so that they can be recycled instead of placed in landfills. Paper waste from the manufacturing process and from business operations should be sent to recyclers to be reclaimed and possibly used again by the manufacturer themselves. (“Current Sunrise Practices That Reduce Impact on the Environment”). Because a Greeting card is a disposable item, greeting card publishers need to react to government and sociological demands for environmental responsibility.
If they do not change their operations to become more environmentally conscious and responsible, consumers will tend to move more toward electronic e-cards and non-durable means of communicating greetings to friends and loved ones. Marketing Perspectives The first Marketing “P”- Product is clear for Greeting card publishers. Since consumers still demand and enjoy purchasing and receiving greeting cards, publishers need to continue to produce quality cards at economically acceptable prices. Publishers need to continue to innovate and improve alternative greetings, such as e-cards and personalized greeting options.
While distinct differentiation is difficult in this industry, publishers need to find ways to market their accomplishments within the industry that will interest and engage consumers to purchase their products over the competition. Examples of this might be continuing to use recycled and renewable products in their manufacturing processes, but also offering consumers ways to dispose of old greeting cards and assuring them that their cards will be recycled and reused within the industry in some other way.
Technology developments in software and an increased desire for personal home printing of greeting cards will need to be a focus for the greeting card publishers. They will want to continue to capture their consumers by offering software that gives desired graphics, poems and sentiments, and possibly unique papers and envelopes that are compatible with personal home printers, but giving the illusion of being a store-bought card. Greeting card publishers need to continue to promote and reinvent their brand by adding and renewing the greeting card segments in their lines of cards.
Continued prominence of high quality is important to consumers, as they make somewhat of a status statement with the cards sent to others. Compromising quality in products is not an option in this industry. Services within the industry need to be promoted and strengthened so that when consumers think of a Brand or name of a greeting card company, they can trust that the services offered by, for instance, a corporate website, are secure and reliable.
Because Greeting cards deal with personal feelings and important occasions, consumers should not ever need to question the availability of the type of card that they are looking to purchase to convey those emotions. Convenient, quality and emotionally relevant products are what will continue to keep the industry successful in decades to come. The second Marketing “P”- Price is a bit more segmented and dysfunctional. Because greeting cards need to be priced to accommodate all levels of income and status, many pricing strategies are used.
Many publishers use Penetration Pricing strategies where incomes are lower, while they use Contribution pricing in high-income locations and boutique settings. Often the pricing of high-end lines of greeting cards supplement the loss-leaders of other lines. Wholesale prices charged by greeting card publishers are normally 50-60% of retail price. Gross Profit margins within the wholesale prices also range from 40-60% of Gross Production Costs. The major competitors, Hallmark and American Greetings, require exclusive sales licenses with their retail channels.
The larger greeting card publishers do not offer discounting to their retail channels. (Cohen) As one journalist states, “It’s not that the inherent value of the product justifies the price; it’s that the manufacturer is committed to sell its product based on the product’s perceived value in the eyes of the consumer. So it is the market’s determination of value that dictates pricing, thereby affecting margins. As long as the product or service satisfies the needs or desires of the target market, this perceived value determines the selling price.
Greeting cards are a prime example of price/value incongruity. They sell at an average price of $4 or $5 – almost the same as photo albums that are capable of storing 100-plus photos. Here we have an industry that promotes the value of sending greeting cards and expresses this value in terms of the emotional satisfaction enjoyed by both the sender and the recipient. It would be inappropriate — even offensive — to put a price on such a joyful and considerate act. ” (Kane) Yet, surveys results from other studies show that onsumers are becoming increasingly price sensitive and consider the price of the card and wrapping paper when considering the over-all price of giving a gift. When a card and wrapping add $5-$10 to the value of the gift, some often have to reduce the cost of the overall gift. This survey also states that if a consumer does not recognize a meaningful difference between a $2. 50 card and a $0. 50 card, they will choose the lesser priced item. (“Unity marketing”). The third “P”- Place, or Distribution channels within the greeting card industry vary greatly depending on the size and volume of the publisher.
The major players within the industry mainly distribute their cards through large scale retail stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and other similar big-box stores. Mass retailers are the fasting growing retail distribution channel within the greeting card industry (USA Today). Mass retailers average out to generate at least 60% of total sales for all greeting publishers that sell within the mass retail arena. Supermarkets, gift retail stores, department stores, and military post exchanges are also locations that one can buy a greeting card at (AG Financial Report). Greeting cards are also sold at discount retailers throughout the U.
S. The discount market now accounts for approximately 8% of the industry’s sales revenue, but 20% of the cards sold (USA Today). Both Hallmark and American Greetings also have free-standing retail locations throughout the United States where greeting cards are sold along with giftwrap, gift items and small home decor items. These stores are most often located in shopping malls and strip shopping centers. However, these types of locations have seen lagging sales over the recent years and a result, both publishers have been slowing closing the shops with declining sales.
For example, American Greetings operated 542 independent retail stores in 2005. By the end of fiscal year 2008, the count of retail stores had dwindled down to only 414 (AG Financial Report). Smaller greeting card publishers are most likely to sell their wares in small boutique stores or niche stores within a geographic area. The Internet is also a common selling place that these companies look to market and generate sales for their brand. Another route that publishers can take is to sell through mail-order catalogs. It has been mentioned that small publishers ill accept artwork and design from free-lance writers and artists. There is not much available information as to the percentages of business that is done through the different channels. Unfortunate for free-lance artists and writers, it is very difficult for one to have their designs or prose picked up by a major greeting card publisher. The larger players do not accept unsolicited submissions and competition is fierce in the larger and higher paying markets. If you want a role in writing cards for these companies you might be better off considering a staff position at the company itself (Writers Write).
That being said, the major publishers design, create and manufacture their own line of products using their hired workforce. Both Hallmark and American Greetings employ their own sales force of merchandisers to deliver, unpack, and set-up their allocated selling space with in retail location. Both Hallmark and American Greetings, as well as other unnamed publishers, have interesting agreements in place with some of the larger retailers that they sell their product at. The greeting card companies own their stock placed at the corresponding stores until the point-of-sale.
In essence, they do not receive payment for their merchandise until it is purchased by the end-user. On average, it takes a greeting card 10-15 days to sell once it is placed on the retailer’s shelf (AG Financial Report). Likewise, publishers that use this practice will take back unsold seasonal merchandise, at no cost to the retailer, once the holiday is over. According to the American Greetings 2008 Financial Report, approximately 35% of total revenue is used for sales, distribution, and marketing of greeting cards (AG Financial Report).
One can assume that approximately one-third of this amount is spent solely on marketing and promotion. If you were to apply this amount to the entire industry, approximately $XXXX is spent annually on marketing/promotion by the entire greeting card industry. To help with brand promotion, the final “P”, both retailers and greeting card companies are working on cross-merchandising opportunities across various lines to build and ensure customer loyalty storewide (Find Articles). For example, out-posting Valentine’s day greeting cards in the candy section of a store.

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