18-34 Year Olds Are Buying More Cards, Confirms Karen Hubbard, Card Factory’s CEO

“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” the quote from Mark Twain filled the screen as Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory took to the lecturn to deliver a punchy, thought provoking and optimistic speech at the GCA’s AGM & Conference to provide a fitting finale to the morning’s agenda.

“I spend quite a lot of time in the City with investors, analysts and the press convincing them that card giving is alive and well, and that the card industry is not going to suddenly disappear– so it is refreshing to be able to stand in front of an audience who truly understand the card giving tradition,” began Karen.

As Card Factory is the UK’s largest greeting card retailer, with almost a third share of the total market, the insights and views Karen went on to share served to echo Mark Twain’s famous words.

Above: This year as Card Factory celebrates its 21st birthday it is still aiming to build to 1,200 stores.
Above: This year as Card Factory celebrates its 21st birthday it is still aiming to build to 1,200 stores.

Confronting the ongoing speculation that the greeting card industry is in terminal decline, Karen revealed that “evidence from industry and customer Research as well as from Card Factory’s own performance demonstrates that if anything there is a move back to the ‘emotion’ of sending a physical card – to both celebrate life moments and to share sentiment” before elaborating that “what is changing is the “occasion” and the age profile of card givers.”

Karen’s view, based on its data is that the UK card market has increased slightly in value over the five years 2012-2016, though there has been an overall drop in volume, though Card Factory actually sold 10 million more cards over this period.

Above: Card Factory’s data concurs the industry is in decent health in an evolving retail and consumer landscape.
Above: Card Factory’s data concurs the industry is in decent health in an evolving retail and consumer landscape.

 

Highlighting some of the salient general greeting card trends, Karen picked out:

* Older consumers are buying fewer cards.

* 18-34 year olds are buying more cards – “We need to thank their mothers for that and the general sense of wanting to share sentiment and how we feel,” added Karen.

* Consumers generally plan to buy their cards, irrespective of where they buy them.

* Digital has not been a replacement for physical greeting card sending. In fact between 2015 to 2018 there has been a decline from 14% to 6% of people who have replaced a card with only a digital greeting.

 

Above: Physical greeting cards are holding their own against digital cards.
Above: Physical greeting cards are holding their own against digital cards. 

 

Building to a fitting emotional crescendo, Karen said: “I know that many in the industry have mixed views about Card Factory’s presence in the market – but we are very proud to play a pivotal role in ensuring that card giving remains an affordable tradition – no matter what the occasion or special moment – and that is something that we should all align behind, whether a publisher, designer, wholesaler or retailer both physical and online.”

As she quite rightly pointed out: “In this room we all have the collective responsibility to ensure that we understand the card giving nation and that we look after them and serve them well.”

Here Karen shares her views on the GCA AGM & Conference.

 

Top: Card Factory’s ceo Karen Hubbard took to the stage to deliver a memorable keynote speech.

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