E-cards are back, thanks to the pandemic

almost a generation later The electronic postcard was introduced, last year experienced a surge in demand for digital greeting cards as the pandemic cut people off their social circle.

With fewer in-person interactions and stores closed, more people looking to connect with family, friends and co-workers have embraced e-cards, a gimmick that was a heyday in the pre-internet age, but largely distant. happened.

Alexandra Suazo, a digital marketing professional in Madison, Wis., said she began using e-cards to add a personal touch in March last year, when remote work and many other aspects of life felt impersonal.

“It was one of the easiest ways to keep up the morale of the team,” she said. “I’ll sometimes send them as a one-off, especially if they’re cute and will make someone’s day.”

American Greetings, one of the giants in the greeting card world, would not disclose exact sales figures. But Rob Matusek, executive director of the company’s digital business, said it has seen record growth since the start of coronavirus restrictions, with demand around Easter last year exceeding what publishers would typically expect for the Christmas holiday.

“If they weren’t getting together physically with friends and loved ones, people wanted to do something that was personal,” said Kelly Ricker, chief creative officer at American Greetings, owner of the Blue Mountain e-card website. “It was a nice way to let them know you’re thinking of them.”

The greeting card industry’s revenue from sales of paper products in the United States declined 13 percent last year, with many stores closing for a longer period of 2020, according to IBISWorld, an industry research company.

It was a different story for online ordering of e-cards and paper cards, IBISworld said in a report.

Revenue grew 23.9 percent from 2019 to 2020, almost double the revenue growth of the previous year. Some companies operating in the $1.3 billion online card market have also posted triple-digit growth, the research firm said.

Increased desire to connect with others through sending cards to Simeon Yates, Professor of Digital Culture at the University of Liverpool In England. “It reflects the fact that people want to show that they care, with the added effort of producing a written artifact to send, even if it’s digital,” Professor Yates said.

As 2021 progresses and more brick-and-mortar stores reopen, the days of a surprising renaissance for e-cards may be numbered.

Although a spokesman for American Greetings said that recent holidays such as Mother’s Day showed strong performance for both paper and e-cards, Jack Daly, an industry research analyst at IBISworld, said he expects the revived interest in e-cards to be temporary. .

“The growth spurt will subside,” Mr Daly said. The research firm estimates that the online card market’s revenue growth will fall sharply from its 2020 peak to around 1.6 percent in 2021.

Confidence in the e-card market also suffered a setback when greeting card giant Hallmark ended its 24-year campaign e-card market in April. A spokesperson said the company had shut down the online service as part of an ongoing business transformation, not because of declining interest.

For some consumers who use both formats, paper has always held a special place. “There is still a cultural significance surrounding receiving cards in the mail,” Mr Daly said.

Jessica Filzen, who runs a marketing agency in Monterey, Calif., has been sending e-cards and printed cards to her family for years. She said she proudly displays the intricate paper anniversary cards given to her by her husband two years ago, admitting that for all the convenience of e-cards, she still cherishes the art of the printed format more.

While some might think that e-cards are a blast from the past, industry professionals predict that it is the paper cards that the younger generation will crave for their nostalgia.

As people at American Greetings refer to Ms. Riker as her “card-sending years” – her 20s and 30s, when friends start getting engaged and having kids – she added “paper cards really have something special to her,” In part because it’s a novelty for generations who spend so much time on their cell phones. “It’s kind of a retro feel.”

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