appropriate selection, they have a great opportunity to capture the mar-
ket share migrating from the specialty stores,” says Megan Baucco, asso-
ciate public relations manager at Cleveland-based American Greetings.
“Many of American Greetings’ supermarket chains have integrated our
Papyrus brand, which was historically only found in the specialty chan-
nel, to take advantage of this great opportunity.”
One way to capture the traffic that previously went to the indepen-
dents is to customize each supermarket location’s assortment.
“American Greetings looks at each store individually and has a formalized, proprietary process for providing the optimal greeting card
department,” says Baucco. She adds that each department should be
customized to satisfy the greeting card consumers shopping that store.
“Supermarkets should look at their greeting card business and see
whether it matches the demographic of their core buyer,” LLansó says.
“In an upscale store where a shopper will spend $7 for a jar of peanut butter, maybe that buyer is also willing to spend more on a card. While the
average card is about $3.50, there are embellished cards with bells and
whistles that will retail for $5.99 and up. At the same time, depending on
their clientele, they may also want to have a 99-cent line. Depending on
the size of their department they can have it all.”
In most cases, the decision on how best to merchandise the department
is left up to the greeting card manufacturer managing the department
for the retailer. “Most of our members go into what is called ‘control’
and they control the greeting card business in that store,” LLansó says.
“The fixturing is free and the servicing is done just like the bread guys
do in the baked goods aisle.”
While most supermarkets go with either Hallmark or American
Greetings, LLansó suggests they may wish to check out a smaller player
to give them more exclusivity. “In our membership of 200-plus mem-
bers right now, probably one-third of us could do supermarkets well,”
It is important to work closely with the manufacturer when creating
the contract to service the store, LLansó says. “Normally a manufacturer will not allow another brand of cards to be sold. It depends on the
contract that the store has signed,” he says.
The card publisher will offer the retailer free fixtures, service and
guaranteed sales and returns on unsold cards. “What they are asking for
in return is exclusivity and a term on the contract, where they are your
provider for a certain number of years,” LLansó says. “That precludes a
competitor from coming in and telling the store they will give them all
new fixtures, cards and buy all of the cards from publisher X.”
Still, retailers can often insist on wording their contract to allow
cards from smaller companies to be sold in other areas of the store, such
as the floral or giftware departments. Legacy Publishing, sells its cards
in Wegmans, for example. “Wegmans is a huge American Greetings
outlet, but they have their little outposts where they have other publish-
ers,” LLansó says.
Designer Greetings is one such specialty publisher, offering more
than 21,000 everyday and seasonal cards in a wide range of styles. The
Edison, N.J.-based firm also offers a broad range of gift wrap, including
gift bags, roll and flat wrap, tissue, ribbons, bows and gift cards.
Design Design offers a full line of birthday and all-occasion cards.
The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company sources its uncoated paper
from Mohawk Paper, a supplier renowned for its environmental practices, including the use of wind power and being Forest Stewardship
Industry leader Hallmark is always on the lookout for breakthrough
ideas, formats and inventions, says Melton.
“For example, this Valentine’s Day, shoppers will find blooming
paper roses, cards that transform into pop-up lanterns and cards that
feature a variety of light technology, such as color-changing lights
and Light Pipes that create synchronized animation,” Melton says.
“Additionally, our Greetings Innovation Lab is hard at work coming
up with the next greetings’ idea to make the consumer’s experience
sending a card that much more relevant and unique.”
The handcrafted feel is expected to be popular in 2017, say
“Hallmark Signatures features luxurious textiles, special touches such
as gems, and heartfelt messages,” Melton says. “In 2017, we are extending our Signature product line with hundreds of new card designs, a new
premium Spanish collection, new captions and price points. In addition,
retailers will have the opportunity to showcase this trend with our new
Signature merchandising solution. Our premium line of products is
highlighted on the shelves via newly designed signage made of rich textured paper stock embossed with Hallmark’s logo,” he says.
“Currently, consumers are responding to hand lettering, texture and
messages that are playful and positive,” she says. “Hand lettering gives
consumers a sense of craftsmanship that conveys the quality of the communication. Our digital world has consumers touching things that are
so smooth, our fingers are hungry. Texture and dimension fill a need, as
well as deliver on the artisanal elements consumers enjoy.
“Consumers are also looking for clever and unexpected new ways to
say things, and this is especially true for affirming messages,” Baucco
adds. “Even if they are acknowledging something difficult, consumers
want positivity to be the prevailing feeling the recipient is left with.”
Cards based on licensed characters also remain popular.
“We recently expanded our portfolio to include Hasbro, Mattel, Hello
Kitty and Lego Batman/Ninjago,” Melton says. “We invested in Trolls,