Next summer, when Hallmark Cards Inc. of Kansas City, Mo. launches one of its largest-ever new-card lines, messages concerning Valentine’s Day, weddings and anniversaries will be noticeably absent. Hallmark has decided instead to concentrate on a line of “anyday” greeting cards whose messages are not restricted to special occasions. This segment of the greeting-card market is growing by about 25% a year, and Hallmark is only joining a long list of marketers of seasonal products who have concluded that they need a broader, year-round appeal.
Hallmark decided to launch its 520-card “Just How I Feel” line after a massive market research effort. The $5-million TV and print campaign supporting the line next summer will stress just how far Hallmark went to determine what consumers really want in a non-occasion card.
Hallmark is well known for its market research, but it outdid itself this time. Over a two-year period, the company surveyed more than 6,500 consumers in focus groups, national surveys and one-on-one interviews. The research determined that many consumers were dissatisfied with available anyday cards because they didn’t sufficiently express the range of emotions people who send these cards want to express. There just weren’t enough message options.
Hallmark will begin slowly introducing the cards to about 10,000 stores as early next month. Although the cards don’t target a new market, they expand the non-occasion concept. They’re slightly smaller than normal cards, with rounded corners, hand-lettered conversational messages and informal artwork. The messages cover a range of subjects, from love and friendship to divorce and depression. According to Tom Johnston, group vice president/Hallmark brand, the cards “communicate in a more human way,” and allow people to “express feelings on a day-to-day basis.”
Hallmark is pulling out all the stops with instore displays. The 16-foot panels will hold groupings of cards that will feature headings such as “You Mean So Much,” “I’m Glad We’re Family” and “Let’s Work Things Out” to help consumers zero in on what’s most appropriate. The envelopes, which come in a variety of bright colors, will be located separately, above the cards, so that buyers can further personalize their cards by selecting their own envelopes.