The greeting card industry is feeling the pain of the recession. Not in terms of sales, but we imagine that people are less inclined to buy holiday cards if they’re struggling to pay the electric bill.
No, the cards themselves are becoming more somber. Which means less glitter (so inappropriate and presumably expensive) and longer messages filled with hope for the new year.
Anything to keep us from trying to figure out how to turn the news that a family member got fired into a three paragraph “we’re doing great” letter.
WSJ: “We could tell the mood was changing fast,” says MJ Smith, American Greetings’ director of consumer and cultural trends. “In the last few years, we’ve had cards with lots of glitter, but that’s just not the mindset anymore — people are more traditional now.”
So American Greetings, which produced some 3,000 holiday-card designs this year, started to recalibrate. One of the first changes: deeper reds and greens.
“Santa is a true, traditional red, instead of the cherry red we’ve used in the past,” says Susan Sliede, director of seasonal planning. “And instead of a shiny pattern on his coat, we’re using flocking,” she said, as she touched the velvet-coated paper…
A definite no-no this year is expecting too much from Santa. “The cards with a lot of shopping bags or gifts piled high, the excess we thought was so cute last year, doesn’t work now,” says Candace Corlett, president of New York consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail. “We don’t want to be reminded of our aggressive consumerism.”…
The text is deliberately long-winded. Before, cards had shorter, snappier messages. “Now people want longer copy,” says Rochelle Lulow, creative director of American Greetings’ editorial studio. “During difficult times, we see people wanting to connect on a deeper, emotional level that goes above and beyond.” Another executive said: “We started seeing that at Mother’s Day.”
And they’re using creepy techniques to come up with these new messages.
Ms. Lulow has even been eavesdropping on mobile phone conversations. “I hear more about relationships than I ever have before,” says the 24-year card-writing veteran. Lately, Ms. Lulow has started noticing more people saying, “I love you,” especially while grocery shopping. “I hear people on their mobile phones say, ‘What cereal do you want? OK, I love you, bye,'” she says.
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