Check out this great article in the online WSJ about how American Greetings has been tracking consumer sentiment about spending and revising their expansive product line (3,000 cards!) to reflect what they're learning. A few interesting quotes from the article:
An early clue to the new direction: During brainstorming sessions held late last year for the 2008 holiday collection, nostalgia for simple holiday traditions like cookie-baking, walks through the snow and tree-trimming kept coming up among the writers, artists and trend experts in attendance. Then, amid the glitzy, festive tone that dominated last year's holiday-card designs, American Greetings noticed that traditional cards with heartfelt messages were selling surprisingly well.
By early this year, as the housing downturn accelerated and gas prices rose, the Cleveland-based company's research showed that consumers, spending more time at home, were focusing on personal relationships and reminiscing about happier times together.
The product implications are interesting:
A definite no-no this year is expecting too much from Santa. "The cards with a lot of shopping bags or gifts piled high, the excess we thought was so cute last year, doesn't work now," says Candace Corlett, president of New York consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail. "We don't want to be reminded of our aggressive consumerism."
So the greeting-card giants, never known for radicalism, are playing it especially safe. Nontraditional holiday shades, such as pink and light blue, are being used sparingly. "This year you could add accents of pink with red or green, but you need traditional icons, like trees or snowmen, to do it," says Ms. Sliede of American Greetings.
The text is deliberately long-winded. Before, cards had shorter, snappier messages. "Now people want longer copy," says Rochelle Lulow, creative director of American Greetings' editorial studio. "During difficult times, we see people wanting to connect on a deeper, emotional level that goes above and beyond." Another executive said: "We started seeing that at Mother's Day."