“We all know the UK and Irish indies marketplace is particularly tough at the moment, the vision for us is to put Hallmark back on the indies map,” Ciaran Leonard, Hallmark’s head of sales for UK and Ireland (responsible for indies, Gold Crown and non-grocery nationals) told PG Buzz, fresh from the the publisher’s busy schedule of roadshows, at which it revealed its latest Christmas and everyday products. Revealing how the publisher is gearing up for an anewed push on the independent retailer front, Ciaran admitted: “For a while now we have been a sleeping giant in this channel”, but believes “with the right approach and with the right partners we can really grow, despite the market challenges.”
He sees the “key to success” for Hallmark as being built around “rejuvenating our Gold Crown programme, continuing to lead the way on product – with a real focus on relevant ranges for our Indies customers – and improved customer service via our field and internal teams.”
Ciaran said that the publisher’s roadshows were its “most successful ever,” adding that it was gratifying that “retailers appreciated that we haven’t had any price increases, which would have been an easy option given the global economic circumstances but we felt it important to support our indies’ market by maintaining their margins to enable them to compete against the intense competition they face.”
Forming part of the Roadshows this year was a programme of masterclasses, including several which saw Hallmark reveal societal and consumer trends, explaining how these are translated onto products.
As Jen White, head of creative brand for Hallmark, explains: “As well as using visual trends, we use consumer trends to inform our range development. Lifestyles and behaviours are ever changing and we need to ensure that we are catering for these shifts in today’s society.”
One major shift covered in the masterclasses has been the perception of age. Focusing on the Baby Boomer demographic (those born between 1951 and 1969), Hallmark’s research findings highlight not only how “70 is the new 50”, but how this is a demographic with money!
“Boomers account for 75% of the UK’s wealth, yet only 5% of marketing is aimed at this sector – they are prime card buyers!” says Jen. “We need to make sure, for example, that our designs reflect that over 50s are spending more on keeping fit than ever before – over £1.5 billion.”
They are more likely to be popping in to a card shop after a yoga class than looking forward to their pipe and slippers!
Elaborating, Jen says, “Gone are the days when retirement meant slowing down, and we need to reflect this in our choice of cards with themes like adventure and new beginnings.”