It’s strange to think of something as staunchly traditional as the greeting card industry undergoing the same changes as the music and film industries, but it’s true. The greeting card industry is being repeatedly battered over the head by the emergence of digital products and in another five years it will probably be gone completely. Its replacement has already been decided.
The e-card has been popular ever since its inception in 1995. The idea of a card without limitations has always enthralled consumers and they continue to snap up digital birthday wishes in their droves. It’s that vast realm of possibility that makes e-cards so much fun to make and to send. Why send a card with a static, uninspiring picture that isn’t relevant to the occasion, when you could have an exciting animation of a puppy or a clown?
The future of the e-card industry isn’t in doubt. In fact, it’s expected to thrive. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that it’s so environmentally friendly. The carbon footprint of an e-card business is next to nothing, especially compared to a traditional paper based one. Businesses with a low carbon footprint are much safer both politically and financially at the moment. They’re already operating at the leanest possible capacity – they’re a more nimble, more agile version of an industry that’s currently struggling. Of course, they’re going to have a safer future than their counterparts.
Market intelligence website Key Note points out that ‘specialist cards retailers have maintained a large share of the total market in terms of volume of sales.’ This refers to companies like Moon Pig and Funky Pigeon which still offers traditional paper based cards, but with unique personalisation opportunities. Companies like this are managing to keep up with the e-card industry only because they’ve abandoned traditional retail methods and now choose to operate via the internet and the mail. Yet even these companies have seen sales fall now that supermarkets, garages, clothing stores and booksellers have started to sell greeting cards.
The future of the e-card industry is expected to be a successful one but not one without obstacles, says BostInno.com journalist Lisa DeCanio. Inflation is due to force inevitable price rises and this could affect sales around Christmas and New Year. Since the advent of the recession, customers have less money to spend on luxuries like greeting cards and are more likely to forgo them completely. E-cards may have to get cheaper in order to tempt them back – or more e-cards may have to be made available for free.
At present, 53% of e-card users choose e-cards because they’re free – that’s more than half of the industry’s customer base. Whilst it’s certainly not sustainable to offer all e-cards for free, a large amount of the very simplest could be offered for no charge. Personalisation, animation and audio options could be offered as extras for a small charge. The vast majority of people who visit e-card websites do so because they’re looking to send a personalised gift. It could be a good idea to charge for the personalisation rather than the card itself.
According to Sally Babcock, the senior vice president of one of America’s biggest e-card companies, the future of the industry is secure thanks to better animation, better music and better captions.
“You can customise them more than ever,” Babcock says.
Author Bio: Jane is an e-card designer. She recommends Katie’s Cards for affordable, high quality e-cards. She can be found online blogging about the fun that can be had when making and sending an e-card.