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Greeting Cards Industry Sinks As They Fail to Understand Users of Technology, TV, Wireless Etc

April 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 143

You may have been into a card store recently as it was someone's birthday. Depending on the age of the recipient, one could happily know what to select, if the age range is from 25 and up. However as the age factor decreases, there is likelihood, that the card selected might not interest the person you are trying to please.

Why would that be? Well we live in a different age and for people who grew up with a card for your birthday, now kids expect something different. This is why so many card companies such as Hallmark and American greetings are failing to grow their brands with this important audience. Hallmark this year just reported that their sales were flat from the previous year - meanwhile figures for consumer spending in March 2012, show increases in spending.

It seems that greeting card companies, "think" they can see the trend but often are missing. For example, a big new development in card technology is AR or augmented reality. All these big firms jump on the bandwagon, with things like the Hoops and Yoyo characters that Hallmark own. They presume that because they like a 2D image on their computer, everybody else will think "wow", I want one of those. This is typical of an industry out of touch.

Having worked with companies like Nokia(media strategies for youth), Macromedia (Adobe Flash), Disney to name a few relevant to this article, I think I have a good understanding of why. Here is my logic. Even though a large percentage of people use a PC, only 35% of them actually use it for anything (Facebook and Youtube do not count as regular PC work). For this simple reason using the AR product as an example, the chances of hooking up a webcam, installing relevant software is not something I consider as user friendly. People like the "least path of resistance". This seems like a classic case of a programmer who creates a "great" game, only to see that none of his customers get it - why because he did not bother to do his homework on they typical customer.

It seems like a rotating wheel with card companies, as many never started out with intentions of integrating technology into their products and now find that without it, they will miss the market. However, you have to understand why people are using the technology and how.

An example of a company that might be turning the tide is Dvdportraits. They have a product range called "DP and his friends". They claim that their cards "come to life" and to be honest after reviewing one - they actually do! Like other companies, this company addresses things that are "hip" with the kids marketplace such as 3D, animation, cute characters ( we all know how kids love 3D animation such as Toy Story, Shrek, Avatar, Nickelodeon etc). However unlike others, it addresses the consumer on how they react. For example, the printed material offers the "feel" perception for parents that buy, the associated technology does not need a PC while still visually seen on the TV (everyone knows how to operate that), hence addressing the digital aspect of the child's needs whilst still looking at practicality of use.

Everybody talks about ecards, taking over but here again, the reality of this is, is that ecards cannot be held and the vast number of people in this world do not operate a PC for pleasure ( hard to understand to many). Ecard account for less than 3% of all card sales, so I think this justifies the above explanation.

It is without question that as technology changes, we may no longer be looking at greeting cards in the same way. If you recollect the cards that play music. Back in 2003, if you went into a Walmart, you would see maybe one small section of these cards. Roll forward to 2012, whole rows are full of these cards. This shows the trend for consumers and what they are spending money on.

For future growth expect to see more. For example as internet technology mainstreams with TV (not the pocket change you see now with several technical issues), you will just be able to select much as you do with ecards and send to another TV. This can be stored, printed etc as needed. However with so many protocols and mix match standards, this is still some time away. Add to the fact that newer technologies are emerging, one has to not just address the technology but more importantly look at how that technology is going to address their consumer.

Youtube KCTV news - DP and his friends - Understanding how animation is made - Youtube

Source: EzineArticles
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