The results of the survey about Greeting Card Buying habits in the UK that I sent out last Spring, showed clearly that, over here, we prefer cards that are left blank inside. 77.9% of those asked preferred greeting cards with no verse inside and that would have included me, if I had done the survey.
And yet, there are a lot of greeting cards on sale with verses inside and people make a living from writing verses for the insides of cards; so some people obviously prefer them – those 22.1% of the people who filled in my questionnaire! I wonder why that would be?
And how does that fit with the very successful advertising slogan, 'Say it with flowers'? No words, just flowers...or possibly a floral greeting card.
Being very definitely a' no-verse-inside' kind of person, I can only imagine that verses are popular because the card-giver feels that someone else can express what they wanted to say more eloquently than they could say it themselves. In this case I suspect there’s a gender bias in our preferences but I don’t want to sound sexist!
There are several reasons why I would always buy a greeting card that was blank inside – unless it was the punch line of a joke that began on the front of the card.
1. My first reason is purely practical - it saves time and effort. There are many greeting cards, particularly those known as ‘Art Cards’, where the image could be suitable for many occasions and a verse inside would limit their use.
Apparently women are likely to buy cards as and when they come across them, just because they like them and not with a particular use in mind. It’s always handy to have drawer full of greeting cards for the unexpected occasion or for when you can’t find anything just right in the shops. (Men, on the other hand, are far less likely to buy greeting cards unless they know they need them for a specific purpose.)
2. Another very powerful reason is that I find most of the verses inside cards overly sentimental and I would feel embarrassed to send them! (Maybe that’s just me being 'frightfully British'.)
3. A third reason is the question of 'personalisation'. One of the buzz words these days is ‘personalised’; in fact I think the time is coming when it will be very difficult to sell anything online that cannot be ‘personalised’ or ‘customised’. And, although on most websites selling greeting cards, you can hit the ‘customise’ or ‘personalise’ button to remove the inside verse, what was the point of including it in the first place if the trend is towards ‘personalisation’?
I have no statistics to back this up, but my impression is that the American card-buying public is more interested in greeting cards with a verse inside than we are here in the UK. But it is also suggested that whatever is popular in the US is taken up in the UK a few years later. So maybe if I were to send out my questionnaire again in 5 or 10 years time, the results would be very different where ‘blank inside’ or ‘verse inside’ is concerned. I’m not sure how this would fit with the growing demand to personalise our greeting cards.
In the meantime, I’m leaving as many of my greeting cards as possible ‘blank inside for your own message’ and only adding some very brief inside text when the Greeting Card Universe reviewers deem the image and greeting on the front insufficiently explicit to fit in the category I’ve chosen for it. I just hope it will stay that way for many years to come!
But I'm curious about the 22.1% - what is it that is so attractive about having a verse inside a card?
Am I missing something?
What is your preference – a verse inside or ‘blank inside for your own message’?