Greetings cards. We can't get enough of them and neither can everyone else it seems. Even with the option of e-greetings knocking at the door, the market for these folded messages of love and friendship continues to thrive and they get ever more creative.
So we'd thought we'd dive a little deeper into what's going on in card world with a quick chat with the wonderful Sharon Little from the Greeting Card Association - the trade body representing the UK greeting card industry. And here she is...
Hi Sharon, tell us a little bit about you and your role at the GCA.
I've been running the GCA for 18 years. I was brought in in 1998 to grow the association which at the time only had around 60 members. I've seen a lot change. We now have a large, specifically tailored and useful website full of resources for our members. And there are now over 400 of those, who include the giants such as Hallmark and UK Greetings along with a long-tail of start-ups and SMEs. I promote our campaigns and represent the industry in the press.
So what are the benefits of being a GCA member if you are a greeting card publisher?
Firstly they love the very personal nature of the Association - it's a real family. Our small publishers really appreciate that aspect. If they need help or advice they can head to the website or pick up a phone and we'll be on the other end to help. They also get to participate in opportunities, projects and events they wouldn't have access to as individuals, that the GCA hosts or promotes.
What are some of these events?
We have collaborated with the Design Museum as part of their Font Night. Members were able to have their card designs - 130 of them - projected onto the front of the museum - which is right next to Tower Bridge - and around the interior, which was great exposure and boosted community engagement and excited our members with 100 of them getting involved at very short notice.
We've also had a 'Card for the Queen' project where we've asked our publishers to create a birthday card for the Queen's 90th Birthday. These have been on display at the Progressive Greetings Live show before being hand-delivered to Buckingham Palace.
What changes have you seen in the greetings card industry over your time at the Association?
The biggest change has been down to the rise of digital publishers like yourself. This has really opened up the market to small card publishers, letting them dip their toe in and see how designing and selling cards works out for them. This has created a huge amount of diversity and the industry is thriving. There's been a massive increase in competition and range thanks to these 'one man bands' and that's a great thing to see at the shows I go to.
So no impact from the rise of the e-greetings industry?
[laugh] No, I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who likes receiving an e-card, because they're not personal. Real cards have a much greater emotional impact, they've actually properly tested it in a study. They evoke a much stronger emotional response because they're touchable and people use them to send a thoughtful message or share a memory and they can keep and treasure them. It's a very different market in my view.
Visit www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk/about for more information on the Greeting Card Association.