Magazine article Drug Topics

Greeting Card Firms Tap into Christmas Traditions

Magazine article Drug Topics

Greeting Card Firms Tap into Christmas Traditions

Article excerpt

Expect unit sales of Christmas cards to increase this year by 100 million over 1990's 2.3 billion. That's the word from Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. "People are taking time to nurture friendships at Christmas," said Hallmark spokeswoman Rene Hershey.

Hallmark will continue to use traditional colors--reds and greens--for Christmas, but, as a result of the Victorian influence on design, the colors will tend toward the richer forest green and burgundy, said Hershey.

Ornaments abound: As for Christmas ornaments, Hallmark will have 197 on the market this year at $3 to $40. Of these, 127 are keepsake ornaments (dated collectibles) in five design groups. According to Hallmark, more than 80% of all American families buy and decorate Christmas trees; nearly one-fifth of all households buy tree decorations.

A new Hallmark offering this year is the Flag of Liberty ornament that combines the stars and stripes of the American flag with a yellow ribbon in honor of the Gulf war and "America's commitment to freedom." New, too, is the first lighted tree topper called Angel of Light (10-1/2. in. high).

In gift wrap, Hallmark has added two designs to the superlative's Fine Art line: "Floral and Fruit" and "Angels." This upscale line includes handlebags and roll wrap.

Ambassador Cards, a division of Hallmark, is offering 1,400 different card designs, along with partyware and specialty items, this year, said spokeswoman Meg Townsend; some 1,300 of those designs will be counter cards. Among the offerings is the "My Thoughts Exactly" line, with its humorous and serious holiday designs. Ambassador will also market 14 Norman Rockwell cards as well as Holiday Horizons, a line of Christmas cards with Western themes.

In partyware, Ambassador will introduce a pattern that features an old-fashioned Santa; another new addition, called Holly, is a red plate trimmed with green holly. Other partyware patterns include solid greens and reds; a country scene; and Snoopy and Woodstock.

Theme sales aid: Ambassador's Season Plus, an in-store promotional program, for '91 spotlights artist Norman Rockwell, said Townsend. In addition to selected items for purchase, Rockwell art appears on signs, displays, and other point-of-purchase material. "We use the Norman Rockwell theme in merchandising the products," she explained. "A theme helps remind counsumers that a holiday is coming." A promotion offers collectible Rockwell prints at 99 cents each with the purchase of three cards.

In gifts for children, Ambassador is offering two sticker activity posters--big posters that can be colored--as well as a variety of stickers, including candy canes, stars, and gift-wrapped packages (priced at $2.69). Also new for this year are doilies and streamers for party-givers and additional stickers.

Six new gift wrap patterns bring Ambassador's to 21. New offerings include a Norman Rockwell pattern, as well as other upscale, high-end designs. Garfield and Snoopy wrappings are designed to appeal to the juvenile market.

In addition, Ambassador has put together a large assortment of handlebags. "These bags sell very well, especially at Christmas," noted Townsend. "They're probably the fastest-growing item in gift wrap." Ambassador will offer about a dozen different designs, three of them new, and different sizes. "It's the convenience that makes them successful," Townsend said.

American Greetings, Cleveland, will introduce the La Flor Musical Cards Supertray assortment targeted to Hispanic shoppers. The 2-ft. display houses 90 musical cards (15 designs), priced at $5 each. …

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