Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Greeting Card Buying Habits in the UK

Just over a month ago I sent an anonymous online questionnaire to every UK resident whose email address I could lay hands on to try to discover our approach to buying greeting cards, where we usually buy them, how much we expect to pay and so on. I asked the recipients of the questionnaire email to forward it to their contacts and as a result, it was completed by 78 people, from all over the UK and from many different walks of life.

There was quite a wide spread of age-groups, with a slight bias towards the 25-55 yrs of age group, which I have read is the group that buys the most greeting cards:

Under 25 yrs - 9.1%
25 - 55 yrs - 46.8%
Over 55 yrs - 44.2%

87.2% of those who took part were female and 12.8% male - and several of the male participants told me that they were 'not typical' because they hate buying cards, which bears out the figures given by the UK Greeting Card Association.

How many greeting cards do people buy in a year?
By far the largest percentage estimated this at 10 - 20 per annum, but this survey specifically did not include Christmas cards, which probably accounts for the numbers being on the low side:

43.6% buy 10-20 per year
17.9% buy 5-10 per year
17.9% buy 20-30 per year
14.1% buy fewer than 5 per year
6.4% buy more than 30 per year

- and remember that these are estimates.

And now for the really interesting bit -
Where do we usually buy our greeting cards? (several people chose more than one outlet)

Card Shop - 74%
Charity Shop - 27.4%
Bookshop/Gallery - 20.5%
Gift Shop - 15.1%
Garden Centre - 2.7%

Only one person (1.4%) said that they would buy greeting cards online!

Amongst the many other places that people buy cards were:

Stationery Department of a big store
Village shop
Local garage/petrol station
Craft fairs

We obviously tend to like our greeting cards left blank inside!

77.9% prefer 'blank inside'
22.1% prefer a verse or text inside the card.

When asked whether they would be prepared to pay more (eg 50p extra) for a card that is printed on heavier board, given that the designs were the same, my impression is that we don't tend to think consciously about it but that it probably is a factor when choosing cards, even if subconsciously. This is what the figures show -

9% said 'yes', they would be prepared to pay extra for a heavier board.
2.5% said 'no' they would not'
65.4% said 'sometimes'

Last but not least, what do we expect to pay for our greeting cards (Christmas cards excluded)?
I do not have percentages for this and I thought of making a graph but to get it to fit in this blog, the print would have been too tiny to read! So here are the figures in 25p increments (I have taken the figures to nearest 25p)

£1 or less....... 5
£1.75............. 8

These figures probably don't add up to 78 because there were some who said that they don't think about the price if they like the card. 

So it seems there is a peak at around £2.00 - £2.50 but also quite a lot of people expecting to pay £1.50 - £1.75.

When it came to asking about the maximum price we Brits are prepared to pay for a greeting card, £10 was mentioned by several participants, as was £4 - £6, but the majority who answered this question gave figures in the region of £2.50 - £3.00.

None of these results has really surprised me but it is good to have my suspicions verified; it will definitely help me in making decisions about selling my greeting cards here in the UK: I hope others may find them useful too.

And to all who gave their time to take part, a very big THANK YOU !!!


norm said...

Fascinating article and piece of work.

Must be extremely useful to all selling greetings cards or contemplating doing so.

JudyAdamsonArtandDesign said...

Thank you very much for your comments, Norm. My survey was sparked by noticing big differences when I signed up to American online greeting card stores and the results just confirmed what I suspected. And yes, it has been very useful to me and I hope others will find it helpful too.

Jackie Garner said...

Interesting post. I concur with much of what you've discovered. Certainly most people like blank cards - wish I'd known that when I had my first one published! Also keep in mind that American buyers often don't like square cards as those cost more to post in some states.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Jackie - thank you for stopping by!

That's useful to know about square cards in the US but they are becoming very popular here and most of them fit within the normal letter postage size here. I always make my cards 5" x 7" as that is still the most common size for greeting cards and it's what the online print-on-demand websites stipulate.

karen said...

Hi Judy.Your research is very interesting.Its amazing how much we take for granted when buying a card, and also how sub-consiously we choose them. Same store, same price etc. Keep up the good work!
Karen - Victorian Translations.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Karen - thank you for your comments. None of the results of the survey particularly surprised me. What has surprised me is how different out buying habits are to those in the US!

barbara said...

Hi Judy,
How interesting!! But it doesn't surprise me. In Germany, lots of cards are blanc also. Those having the usual "happy birthday" on the front are blanc inside - I prefer it that way also! Cheers, barbara

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Barbara - thank you for your comment and interesting to know that it's the same in Germany. There's even a company not far from here (with a website) called 'The Blank Card Company'. They don't even have greetings on the front, on the whole!

Jayne said...

Fascinating article. I didn't know that people preferred blank cards on the inside. I think the few I have made have been half and half -- some had inside greetings, some didn't.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Jayne - I later wrote a blog post on the subject of 'inside verse - or not!' and there was quite a difference of opinion, with most of the 'blank insides' being preferred by people from the UK.