Spring Seasons – thoughts and concerns

UK Greetings, Taylor’s Cards, Raffia and Danilo share their views

 

With Spring Seasons 2022 well and truly over for another year, after several years of upheaval, while it’s still front of mind, PG Buzz asked greeting card retailers and publishers about the issues and developments of these significant card-sending events. 

What could be done to improve sales, and what further potential is out there with other occasions that could be developed to further grow card sending?

Here, Danilo, Taylor’s Cards, UK Greetings and Raffia share their thoughts on the annual Spring Seasons sales, and how to improve matters…

Daniel Prince, managing director, Danilo Promotions

Above: Daniel Prince has seen new trends at Danilo
Above: Daniel Prince has seen new trends at Danilo

What changes in design trends with Spring Seasons have you tracked? “A key trend that’s continuing to grow is the demand for cards from the pet. People in the UK love their four-legged friends so much that cards from pets are now big business. The boom in pet ownership under lockdown has helped companies to increase sales of From The Pet cards and this applies to key seasons such as Valentine’s Day. Not only does this work with pet-related licences such as NBC Universal’s The Secret Life Of Pets, but it also adapts well to lifestyle brands such as Brightside, where the caption Love From Your Furbaby has performed well.

“Galentine’s Day, held on February 13, has also become prominent over the last few years, and seems to get more popular each year. A day which celebrates female friendship and empowerment has shown us that friendship-style designs from licences such as Wonder Woman, Grease, Friends, Barbie and L.O.L Surprise! are becoming increasingly in demand.

“Another change in the greeting card industry revolves around increased sensitivity to loss of parents or being a single parent. To accommodate this, we’ve seen caption changes for spring seasons cards such as Mothering Sunday cards being made available for fathers. For Danilo, we’re continuing to incorporate this into our seasonal ranges and one way will be adding new captions to our ranges such as a Brightside design which states Dad & Mum Rolled Into One on the front of the card.

Have you seen any extra occasions coming through and are there any you’re being asked for? “Three of the strongest themes coming through are World Book Day, Pride and International Women’s Day. Held on March 3 every year, World Book Day is marked in over 100 countries around the globe and aims to change lives through a love of books and shared reading – 2022 saw World Book Day’s 25th anniversary, celebrated with the key message for all children You Are A Reader. We have experienced an increasing number of retailers celebrating this great occasion and, as a result, they’re taking our literary card ranges such as The Gruffalo, Guess How Much I Love You, Elmer The Patchwork Elephant, Roald Dahl and more.

“Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in June and aims to recognise the impact LGBTQIA+ individuals have had on history. In recent years, online platforms have provided an outlet for global conversations and we’re seeing an increase in Pride-themed products coming through in the industry. We’ve been delighted with the response our Brightside Pride range has received, and we currently have Looney Tunes and Justice League Pride card ranges on offer, which we hope will also see a positive response.

“Showcasing the ongoing rise in female empowerment, International Women’s Day is a global day held on March 8 and celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. With one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals being to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’, days such as this are experiencing more awareness and, subsequently, there are more greeting cards being published with captions that support this sentiment. We have developed a strong International Women’s Day card range with Barbie, which features wording such as Girls Will Save The World, The Future Is Limitless, There’s Power In Kindness and Do Your Thing! – all of which aim to promote kindness and empowerment.”

Kevin Taylor, owner, Taylor’s Cards, Debden

Above: Kevin Taylor greets a very special visitor
Above: Kevin Taylor greets a very special visitor

How important are Spring Seasons sales to you? “Seasons are very important to boost our yearly turnover, although we’ve seen a decline for Easter and Father’s Day but Mother’s Day and Valentine’s are still strong – people still like to celebrate Valentine’s Day and spoil their mums but, with current trends taking over, we did indeed get asked for Galentine’s cards.”

What have you done differently this year/plan to do for 2023? “Hopefully we can source more unique captions to follow trends. We’ll also look at doing stronger window displays with cards and gifts that are exclusive down our High Street.”

Is there anything you feel card publishers could be doing to help you on Spring Seasons? “Some card suppliers have changed their terms and conditions from sale or return to firm sale. this limits what we can buy as we stick to a budget so having SOR enables us to have a safety net.”

What changes in design trends with Spring Seasons have you tracked? “Fresher, cleaner designs.”

Have you seen any extra occasions coming through and are there any you’re being asked for? “We stock most of these – New Year, Burns Night, Galentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, and religious festivals – as we always try to stock minor seasons.”

What’s your go-to display once Father’s Day is over? “Weddings! We expand on weddings until September then it’s out with Christmas!”

UK Greetings’ customer & channel director Ceri Stirland and director of product management & insight Lois Holcroft

Above: UKG’s Ceri Stirland (left) and Lois Holdcroft
Above: UKG’s Ceri Stirland (left) and Lois Holdcroft

How important are Spring Seasons sales to you? Ceri Stirland: “Spring seasons are very important to the industry as it keeps greeting cards at front of mind with the consumer and the retailer. It is an opportunity to try new styles, new captions, new editorial. It is essential that all publishers invest in the seasons to drive engagement across the year.”

Is there anything you feel retailers could do to further Spring Seasons? Ceri Stirland: “We know from research that for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day for those buying into the event, the number one purchase is a greeting card. Therefore, by bringing cards, gifting, confectionery, BWS (beer, wine, spirits) – ie affinity categories – together will drive engagement with the consumer.”

Have you seen any extra occasions coming through and are there any you’re being asked for? Lois Holcroft: “Yes we’re definitely getting new requests for cards to celebrate Eid, Diwali, Galentine’s, and to also broaden our existing seasons to make them more inclusive, eg To My 2 Dads On Father’s Day, To Mum On Father’s Day, to and from the pet on Father’s Day, Braille cards – and, of course, we’re also creating cards which represent people from all backgrounds and ethnicities.”

Charlotte Eccles, owner of Raffia, Clitheroe

Above: Valentine’s Day keeps Charlotte sitting pretty
Above: Valentine’s Day keeps Charlotte sitting pretty

How important are Spring Seasons sales to you?  “Spring Seasons remain an important part of my buying calendar. They’re a great way to break up the first half on the year and boost the bank account. Valentine’s Day is a personal favourite. Following a month of sale, it’s always nice to breathe a bit of life into the shop and Valentine’s Day is such a fun occasion with cards that never fail to raise a smile. It’s always preferable to have a decent run between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day but we’re shopkeepers, we work with what we get!”

What have you done differently this year/plan to do for 2023?  “I approached Father’s Day a bit differently this year. It’s notoriously a quieter occasion than some others, which meant I had a number of cards left from previous years. I don’t sell relative cards so, even if a card simply mentions Dad and not necessarily Father’s Day, it will still be sitting in a box come the end of June if I don’t flog it! Consequently, I bought much more sparingly this year and also avoided, in the most part, cards that specifically referenced Dad. It was more a trial to see if I could sell through on generic male cards, while also clearing out the stock room! Fortunately, it paid off and I have very few of the new additions left. Next year I’ll order higher quantities of generic cards that can be moved to other areas after Father’s Day.”

Is there anything you feel card publishers could be doing to help retailers on Spring Seasons? “Um, obviously card publishers and retailers are perfect, it’s those pesky consumers that need to step it up! Just one card for your mother on Mother’s Day? Shocking behaviour. She probably deserves three.”

What changes in design trends with Spring Seasons have you tracked? “When I started out, I used to hate buying for Mother’s Day. It was all excessive florals and words that made me want to vomit. Fortunately, the consumer (them again!) has embraced more simplistic designs and even a little humour for Mother’s Day, which has given card publishers a lot more scope over what they can produce. It’s still not on a par with ordering for Valentine’s Day, which is a truly joyous experience, but at least I no longer roll my eyes at the Mother’s Day portion of a catalogue!”

Have you seen any extra occasions coming through and are there any you’re being asked for? “I’ve never really been asked for any extra occasion cards but, on a personal level, I’d love Halloween cards to be more popular. Having spent a lot of time in the States during October, I love seeing their selection of cards and gifts for the spooky season. It would also give a boost to a month that I often find a little slow as folk prepare for Christmas.”

Top: Bunnies and eggs signify freshness and the Spring Seasons that are so important in the greeting card world

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