Finding the perfect card

Sunday, October 31, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:44 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Greeting cards might give us that warm and fuzzy feeling, but the greeting card industry is a fiercely competitive industry that generates nearly $7.5 billion annually.

In the United States, about 3,000 greeting card publishers vie for a share of the market, or what’s left of it. Two companies, Hallmark and American Greetings, generate more than 80 percent of card sales each year.

In recent years, the greeting card business has experienced a downward trend in sales and growth.

Deep-discount retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target have forced card companies to slash prices. New competitors, including small, family run businesses, continue to flood the market. Although consumers bought nearly 7 billion cards last year, the popularity of free, electronic Internet cards have further eroded sales.

Moreover, personal computers and user-friendly publishing software have made it easy for consumers to create a cards. Homemade greeting cards have also become popular. Several books are available to help you get started, including “Creative Greeting Cards” by Sandi Genovese, “Making Greeting Cards with Creative Materials” by Mary Jo McGraw and The Complete Guide to Greeting Card Design and Illustration by Eva Szela.

The good news is the number of U.S. households that buy greeting cards has increased by more than 6 percent to 90 percent since 1993. That might be because despite technological advances such as e-mail and cell phones, the majority of Americans prefer sending greeting cards and handwritten letters to make people feel special.

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