Personalized greetings are drawing new card customers who are adding incremental sales to the nearly $6 billion card market.
A much younger consumer -- 18 to 39 years old, compared with the traditional card buyer, ages 45 to 50 -- is using the interactive kiosks. Surprisingly, 30% to 40% of those who create personalized cards are men.
These consumers are willing to pay a premium, $3.50, for the personalized cards, compared with $1.50 for traditional cards. At $3.50 a card, retailers are getting 30% gross profit. This is a very good deal, card companies point out, comparing gross profit generated in 6 square feet of kiosk space with profit in the rest of the store. The personalized cards, developed by Creata-Card, a subsidiary of American Greetings, Cleveland, and Touch-Screen Greetings from Ambassador Cards and its parent company Hallmark Cards, Kansas City, Mo., are changing the way consumers think about greetings.
American Greetings and Ambassador have deployed more than 12,000 interactive computer kiosks to all retail channels, including supermarkets. Card companies were vague when questioned on the volume personalized cards could generate annually. Don McKee, vice president and general manager of CreataCard, estimated the average kiosk might generate $11,000 to $12,000 annually.
Fastest growth, both in number of outlets and card volume, is at mass merchandisers.
Among the units CreataCard has in the marketplace, 35% are at drug stores, 30% at supermarkets, 25% at mass merchandisers and 10% at specialty outlets.
Touch-Screen has 49% of its units at mass merchandisers, 25% at supermarkets, 15% at drug and the remainder at specialty retail.
Even though the personalized card business represents a tiny portion of the overall market, about 1% to 2%, according to industry sources, it is growing fast and the technology has the potential to create related personalized products such as party goods, calendars and even T-shirts.
Ambassador did a test during the holidays in Kansas that involved merchandising small personalized gift items such as Hallmark Hall of Fame videos, Crayola T-shirts and calendars, said Jim Holthus, general manager of Touch-Screen.