Niche cards chart 
differentiation in aisles

The supplier in the greeting card aisle may not be enough to capture consumer interest. While smaller, niche players make up less than 5% of category sales, according to one manufacturer, those companies can offer a point of differentiation to retailers that larger manufacturers can’t provide.

Marc Trobman, VP new business development for Avanti Press, compared adding niche publishers to the card aisle with augmenting beers from the two big brewers with craft beers — a strategy most retailers have taken. “People love the beers, but they’re hard to find. When you find them, it raises the credibility of the whole department,” he said. Trobman said his company has had strong success with programs in Meijer, Wegmans and Sprouts Farmers Market.

Trobman also added that smaller, more nimble companies are able to quickly respond to the needs of their customers. Avanti, for example, heavily focuses on humor, the fastest-growing segment of the market. Other key trends in the category are eco-friendly materials, inspirational cards, pets and animal prints.

Cards that answer those needs move quickly. “Retailers say our turns are higher and we produce more revenue per pocket per day, so that’s where we shine with our accounts,” said Bob Gall, president of Blue Mountain Arts, a brand with limited SKUs that require only 8 ft. of shelf space. 

Value pricing is another niche that smaller companies are filling — which is particularly important since greeting card prices have continued to climb. The average card price is between $2 and $4, according to the Greeting Card Manufacturers 

Retailers can discount Gallant Greetings’ line up to 50% off, and Designs for Better Giving, a multicultural card and gift manufacturer, keeps price points down by staying away from expensive embellishments. “We’ve kept our price point solidly in the $2 to $2.50 range, but we still do everything a large company does,” said Richard Todd, president of Designs for Better Giving. “We even have in-house fulfillment people.”

Designs for Better Giving, which offers a full line of multicultural products — from cards targeted to African-Americans to ones written in Russian and Japanese — offers a range from 48- to 102-pocket programs, as well as a 12-pocket counter display.

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