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Greeting cards give the gift of music, voices this season

BY Barbara White-Sax

NEW YORK Gen Y and Millennial consumers may be big communicators, but they aren’t substituting tweeting and texting for more traditional card-sending opportunities.

Research from American Greetings indicated that younger shoppers appreciate the effort involved in choosing and sending a card, especially given how easy it is to connect today. “Younger consumers see a real value in sending and receiving cards because they recognize the effort and thoughtfulness that goes into it,” said Christy Kaprosy, executive director of business intelligence at AG.

Even the growth of e-cards hasn’t led consumers to abandon paper cards. “While e-cards have become more popular, they haven’t had an impact on sales of traditional cards,” said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the Greeting Card Association. “People rarely substitute one for another.”

“The great news for our category is that, with the explosion of electronic communications, people are communicating more, and we are finding that various forms of communications are complementary to one another,” said Steve Laserson, VP greeting cards at AG.

To keep the category interesting for consumers, manufacturers are delivering a continuous pipeline of innovative products, with such technological enhancements as sound, music and animation.

Miller said new technology, such as audio cards and LED light cards, have brought excitement to the category and have proved that consumers are willing to pay more for products that offer a point of difference, even in a tight economy. “People are willing to move to the higher end if it’s something special,” she said.

“Some of the most popular innovations in 2009 included multibutton sound cards, multisensory pop-up greetings, cards that talk, music and sound envelopes, animated greetings and new formats for recordable greetings that expand personalization even further,” said AG’s Laserson. AG will introduce more innovation beginning on Valentine’s Day, with a focus on providing an even more customized and personalized greeting — something that is important to younger customers.

The company also is integrating more everyday language and phrases that have a personal and familiar feel into card editorial.

AG is targeting younger customers as part of its “new retail stage” merchandising plan. Laserson said drug retailers should dedicate a portion of their marketing plan to reaching the younger consumer who is looking to buy cards, and begin to capture this convenience-driven shopper.

“In the drug channel, consumers are often looking to find the perfect card quickly,” he said. “By calling out our innovation product with specific signage, placing our top performers on endcaps and creating an overall offering that is filled with great variety, we are able to help them achieve this goal.”

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Hy-Vee names new president

BY Alaric DeArment

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa A 28-year employee of Hy-Vee has become its new president, according to published reports.

The company appointed Randall Edeker as president of the supermarket chain Thursday at the company’s annual meeting, succeeding Ric Jurgens, who had served as president since 2001 and will maintain his position as chairman and CEO.

Edeker had previously served as EVP and COO.

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Tricare expands vaccination coverage to pharmacies, clinics

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Convenience and value. That’s what community pharmacy and their retail clinic partners deliver to their patients. And that’s what the Department of Defense is counting on in covering immunizations at local pharmacies and identifying convenient care clinics as network providers — two separate pieces of news issued within the past month that really underscore the importance of pharmacies and retail clinics in the delivery of health care today.

Prior to these announcements, military personnel interested in getting their flu shots had to schedule an appointment with their doctor, as Tricare only covered the cost of shots delivered in a doctor’s office.

“As a convenient and accessible healthcare provider, pharmacy is uniquely positioned to offer services for patients, such as vaccinations,” stated Steve Anderson, president and CEO for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Anderson noted that as of earlier this year, pharmacists have the ability to immunize patients in all 50 states. “[This] presents an important opportunity for pharmacists to counsel patients during their visit, and an additional healthcare provider from which to obtain these vaccinations.”

It’s also quite a bit of opportunity for pharmacy — Tricare provides healthcare coverage for 9.5 million eligible beneficiaries. Those beneficiaries pick up almost 2.3 million prescriptions every week, and 1.2 million of those at retail pharmacies, according to Tricare .

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