Imprinting a Shared History on Greeting Cards

  • Washington, D.C. is the top market for Hallmark Mahogany sales
  • U.S. greeting card industry makes $7 billion per year

The demand in the American greeting card industry is still strong to the tune of an estimated $7 to $8 billion a year. Yet in this market, Hallmark and American Greetings loom as large as Coca-Cola (KO +0.38%) and Pepsi (PEP +0.60%) do in the soft drink industry. Hallmark’s long standing relevance under the cultural dominance of computers and other digital devices has persevered through its Mahogany greeting card collection. What are the cultural signifiers speaking to this multi-million dollar industry?

Why This Matters: Americans still send 25 to 30 cards a year and the black community plays a significant role in this. The top five markets for Hallmark Mahogany card sales are Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta. Hallmark began offering cards relevant for African Americans in 1962 and introduced the Mahogany line in 1987. The company is still privately owned and its revenues have slipped 5% from 2012 to 2014. Also, American Greetings has failed to expand its own market share, despite restructuring and a 2013 privatization.

There are black greeting card companies looking to gain a larger market share. African American Expressions is a multi-million dollar company and the largest U.S. black-owned greeting card company. They have deals with local businesses and major brands like Walmart (WMT +0.95%). Other card companies catering to every facet of black culture include, LavenderPop which specializes in LGBT greeting cards and Neighborly Paper which focuses on the power of sharing positive thoughts.

Situational Awareness: In the age of speedy romantic overtures of swapping photos, sliding into DMs and memes on Instagram, greeting cards makers still need to innovate. Consumers will continue to find ways to share their season’s greetings with loved ones. Perhaps personalization will become a much stronger focal point for all of these companies as they sort through the digital adaptation of E-cards.

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