Viewpoints: The greeting card pricing froth

Price increase insights from Noel Tatt, House of Cards, and Woodmansterne Publications

 

Oh, for those good old days when the trade price of greeting cards went up by 10% every 1 January and no one batted an eyelid.

This year, at a time when everyone’s being hit from all sides with cost increases, there is some trepidation about the inevitable price increases in the greeting card sector, despite taking comfort in the fact the average cost of a card is a lot less than a takeaway cappuccino, let alone a pint of beer!

PG Buzz canvassed members of the greeting card community for their opinions on pricing for 2023 and the beverage/greeting card economy. Here we speak to Noel Tatt, House of Cards and Woodmansterne

Above: Jarle Tatt (centre) with his father and company founder Noel, and his son Andreas, its operations manager
Above: Jarle Tatt (centre) with his father and company founder Noel, and his son Andreas, its operations manager

Jarle Tatt, managing director of Noel Tatt

“Prices are going up everywhere. Everyone is expecting price increases. Can we buck the trend, hold back prices and still hold on to our brand values? Every business looks to maximise efficiencies as a cornerstone of their development. Long gone are the days of carrying any excess so-called fat in the business.

“As creatives, our job is to supply product to help the retailers entice customers across their thresholds. Creativity and strength of design is of the utmost importance. Catch the eye of the consumer and they will pick the product up for closer inspection. Only after having passed the initial inspection test, will the consumer then consider whether the product represents value for money to them.”

Above: Some of the new Spritz cards from the 200 new designs that Noel Tatt launched recently
Above: Some of the new Spritz cards from the 200 new designs Noel Tatt launched recently

“Naturally, there’s a tipping point over which a retailer/consumer will deem the cost of a product too expensive. Each retailer will know their customers and where to pitch their price offering accordingly.

Card giving is a fabulous tradition – it provides pleasure to those both giving and receiving. Every card speaks volumes about all involved. Publishers and retailers are dutybound to maximise the feelgood experience of the process, all the way from the card selection, to the smile on the face of the recipient.

“Input prices have risen multiple times throughout 2022. Passing on some of these increases is unavoidable moving into 2023. For Noel Tatt, particular focus has been placed on hitting key retail price points, £1.99, £2.50, £2.99 and £3.50, and designing to achieve the best possible perceived value for money. The ever-increasing cost of postage will likely see less cards sent through the mail. Perhaps it will encourage more people to give cards by hand, which has the added benefit of face-to-face contact, and a consequent reduction of loneliness in many cases.

“Ultimately, the giving of greeting cards is a way of showing we care. We come into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing. What we do in between is what matters. Several small gestures are often more valuable than single large gestures. Card sending is habitual and gratifying.”

Above: A cost of a quality golf ball is higher than a greeting card and invariably for Jarle, lasts a shorter time!
Above: A quality golf ball costs more than a greeting card and, for Jarle, lasts a shorter time!

“We’re very proud to be part of an industry which fosters happiness and empathy. Sending a greeting card remains a relatively inexpensive way of connecting with people and fortunately, there is huge choice, for every budget, even in these testing economic times. Long live our wonderful tradition of bringing smiles to our friends and family through the giving of greeting cards.”

The beverage/greeting card economy: “I’m not one for flavoured coffees, only taking it black and don’t enjoy shelling out several pounds for something I can make just as well from my home machine. I might be more inclined to compare the relatively inexpensive cost of a card to a decent golf ball which, on some days, last less time than a cup of coffee! These I buy a dozen at a time – fortunately, many loyal ultimate customers buy a dozen cards at a time too, to keep in their bottom drawer.”

Above: House of Cards’ Woodley store
Above: House of Cards’ Woodley store

Miles Robinson, co-owner of House of Cards, seven shops based in the Home Counties

“Everyone knows price rises are on the cards, but it has been a waiting game to see who jumps first! You can’t ignore the rising costs that are battering us all as consumers and businesses, it’s a fact of life. The prices of greeting cards have to go up to reflect what’s happening all through the supply chain.

“While no one likes price rises, there’s no sense in publishers supplying retailers and making a loss. Likewise, as retailers we have to put up our retail prices to safeguard our margin and ensure the continuity and investment in our stores and staff.

“As long as we all remain competitive, we have to accept prices will go up in 2023. However, publishers need to think long and hard about the prices they offer to major retailers. It’s wrong that some of the leading multiples, thanks to the discounts they achieve from publishers, are able to sell cards below RRP.”

Above: Miles Robinson with Presentation’s Andrea Pinder (left) and Sue Marks, editor of PG&H
Above: Miles Robinson with Presentation’s Andrea Pinder (left) and Sue Marks, editor of PG&H

“While I accept members of the public will not make price comparisons on individual greeting cards in the same way they would on white goods and other branded products, as an ethical business we want to be able to give our customers the best products at a fair price. I never want us to ever be seen as inflating prices as a result of multiples having been given disproportionate levels of discount from publishers.”

Mitigating measures: “At the start of this year, to accommodate the 2022 price rises, while we stuck to the same price points, we moved cards up to the next one, so a £2.25 card became a £2.50 card and so on. Thankfully we didn’t receive a single customer complaint.”

The beverage/greeting card economy: “We all have to remember the majority of greeting cards are not only cheaper than a takeaway cappuccino, but mean more, last longer and won’t give you a frothy moustache!”

Above: Seth Woodmansterne with Milton Keynes mayor Andrea Marlow at the official opening of Woodmansterne’s Magna Park distribution centre
Above: Seth Woodmansterne with Milton Keynes mayor Andrea Marlow at the official opening of Woodmansterne’s Magna Park distribution centre

Seth Woodmansterne, managing director of Woodmansterne Publications

“We are committed to the survival of ourselves and the industry. When you combine all the cost increases since November 2021, no publisher can survive if they don’t pass on some increases to their retailers. And retailers believe they won’t survive if they pass on increases to the consumer. There you have it – a dilemma!”

These comments appear in the December edition of Progressive Greetings magazine in its Viewpoints section alongside other views from those in the greeting card supply chain.

Top: Price increases get everyone into a froth, but a takeaway coffee costs far more than a greeting card

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